Video on demand platforms look for classic sitcoms and bet on remakes, sequels and spin-offs
In the rankings of the most downloaded or viewed series during the year there is always some “classic”. In fact, Friends or The Office are the two most watched series in the history of Netflix. Such is the demand for this type of sitcom that this platform has already bought the worldwide rights for 2021 of Seinfeld, a series from 1989, for 500 million dollars. The reason? That Friends has just lost, will stop broadcasting The Office in 2021 and does not want to neglect that audience share that returns to the classics again and again.
Platforms like Netflix, HBO or Peacock include this type of series in their catalogues not to attract new clients, but to retain those who already have them. Of course, the astronomical figures paid for these sitcoms reveal their importance: the NBCUniversal group paid 500 million dollars for the rights to The Office over five years and WarnerMedia 425 million to exploit Friends, also over five years.
Sitcoms seem to be the favourite genre for rewatch, a term that is becoming popular in the audiovisual sector but is not a new phenomenon. Re-watching is a basic strategy on which traditional television programming has been based for years. For televisions it has always been a very advantageous element. It is less expensive than premiere content, has more guarantees of concentrating the audience (usually reruns are of series that were successful in their first commercial life) and allows either to fill gaps in the grid at unpopular times, or to swell the TV grids. This practice does not only benefit televisions, video platforms or viewers. For the rights owners it was also a very lucrative route, as they were charged for each of these re-broadcasts. A win-win for everyone.
We love rewatching because it’s a safe bet, we’re sure we’ll have a good time and it reaffirms our good opinion of the product. We feel the same positive emotions again and also discover new aspects that we had overlooked. But studies have also shown that we rewatch to reduce the cognitive fatigue that comes from having to decide between hundreds of options. Paradoxically, although today we have thousands of entertainment alternatives, we often go back to the familiar to avoid uncertainty and the risk of making a mistake when choosing something new. Will I make the right choice? Will I have fun? The more options, the more doubts we can have and the more overwhelmed we can feel, that’s why sometimes we prefer to opt for something we already know and like.
Safe value and convenience are some of the reasons we choose Friends when we have dozens of new series at our fingertips. Precisely because we have so many new things, going back to series we’ve already seen allows us to avoid the dilemma of having to choose. We know the plot, we can get hooked on any episode without problems… The quintessence of comfort.