The cast of television’s “Friends” appears during the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 2002. AT&T is pulling the series from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

The cast of television’s “Friends” appears during the 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 2002. AT&T is pulling the series from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

AT&T to pull ‘Friends’ from Netflix for its streaming service

More companies are trying to make their own services more appealing.

  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019 3:21pm
  • Life

By Tali Arbel / Associated Press

NEW YORK — AT&T is pulling “Friends” from Netflix to beef up its own upcoming streaming service. With new services launching, popular shows are splintering onto several different platforms.

The wireless company, which owns the WarnerMedia entertainment business, also said Tuesday that its service will be called HBO Max. It will launch widely in spring of 2020.

As more companies — Comcast, Apple, Disney — unveil their own streaming services, they’re trying to make them more appealing with exclusive shows and deep libraries. Entertainment companies are pulling some of their stuff from Netflix to stock their own services. It’s not clear, of course, how successful those services will be, and they are losing out on licensing revenue by pulling their content.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal said last month it would keep “The Office,” Netflix’s most popular show, for itself starting in 2021. Its service debuts in 2020. Disney’s upcoming service will be the exclusive streaming home for its big movies.

Netflix for years has been playing up its original shows and movies, but much of its most popular video belongs to other companies. “Friends,” for example, is the second-most watched show on Netflix, according to Nielsen. The company has said it isn’t worried about the increased competition.

Netflix said in a prepared statement Tuesday that it’s sorry to see “Friends” go in the U.S. Viewing rights for other countries are not affected.

AT&T also said Tuesday that the teen drama “Pretty Little Liars,” currently on Netflix, will move to its service, and that it will be the exclusive streaming hub for “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and Warner Bros. dramas made for The CW, the broadcast network it and CBS own. It is also making original series for the service, including a romantic comedy with Anna Kendrick. Reese Witherspoon has agreed to produce at least two movies.

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