A Casualty of Streaming Wars, ‘Friends’ Sees Spike in Disc, Digital Sales

“Friends” is giving the transactional side of the home entertainment business a very happy new year.

The landmark sitcom that helped birth the TV DVD category nearly two decades ago is once again a top DVD and Blu-ray Disc seller — and this time the sales boost is also being felt in digital sales, commonly known in the industry as “electronic sellthrough.”

The catalyst: the disappearance of “Friends” from its longtime exclusive on-demand home, the Netflix subscription streaming service. With streaming wars accelerating, AT&T, which owns the Warner Bros. studio that produced “Friends,” made plans for the show to come off Netflix once the license expired Dec. 31, 2019, and reappear on its own streaming service, HBO Max, which is launching in May 2020.

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In the meantime, “Friends” is only available for on-demand viewing on disc and for digital purchase or rental — and that’s led to a significant spike in sales.

Jeff Brown, EVP and GM of Television and Animation for Warner Bros.’ home entertainment division, said sales began to rise shortly after the announcement in July 2019 that “Friends” would be leaving Netflix at the end of the year.

Through the end of 2019, he said, sales of the season and complete series sets more than tripled. And since the official departure of “Friends” from Netflix on Jan. 1, Brown said, sales have spiked even higher, on both physical and digital formats.

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“Not bad for a 20-year-old TV show,” Brown said. “The discs really started selling well in the summer, when we announced the show was coming off Netflix and we launched a 25th anniversary promotion — but the digital really took off after the first of the year, once the show was off Netflix.”

The top seller is the complete series set, which Warner re-released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in September. The package contains 10 seasons’ worth of shows, or a total of 236 episodes. On Amazon, the complete series set retails for $69.99 on DVD (40 discs), and $109.16 on Blu-ray Disc (21 discs).

Bundles of all 10 seasons also are available digitally through other retailers, like Apple iTunes and Walmart’s Vudu. They, too, are leading sales.

Individual season sets are also available for purchase on disc and through digital retailers, including Amazon Prime. DVD season sets sell for $13.19 on Amazon, with digital season sets going for $19.95. Consumers who want digital versions also can buy individual episodes at $1.99.

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During the five months in which “Friends” is absent from the streaming world, Brown said, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will mount a “robust” promotional campaign he hopes will drive sales even higher.

 

Complete Series Set of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 4 From Mill Creek

The complete series set of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Feb. 4 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

All 51 episodes from the show’s four-season run will be available for the first time together on DVD at $54.98 and Blu-ray at $74.98.

The series follows Kimmy Schmidt, rescued after 15 years in a cult, who decides to reclaim her life by venturing to New York, where she experiences everyday life with wide-eyed enthusiasm. On a whim, she rents a room from Titus, a gay wannabe Broadway actor and the unlikely pair find they’re well-suited to help each other out. Titus reintroduces Kimmy to modern life, and she provides him with the inspiration to follow his dreams.

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Created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock (“30 Rock”), the comedy series earned 18 Primetime Emmy nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series for each of its seasons. The cast includes Ellie Kemper (“The Office”), Tituss Burgess (Dolemite Is My Name), Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”) and Carol Kane (The Princess Bride) with guest appearances from Amy Sedaris, Jon Hamm, Josh Charles, Fred Armisen, David Cross and Tina Fey.

Netflix will be premiering an “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” interactive special in early 2020, the first interactive comedy event for the service.

‘The Mindy Project’ Complete Series Set Coming Jan. 14 on DVD and Blu-ray From Mill Creek

The complete series set of the sitcom “The Mindy Project” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Mill Creek Entertainment Jan. 14.

All 117 episodes across the show’s six-season run (seasons on, two and three on Fox, and seasons four, five and six on Hulu) will be available on DVD for $54.98 and Blu-ray for $74.98.

The series follows Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling), a talented obstetrician navigating the tricky waters of her chaotic personal life as she pursues her dreams of becoming the perfect woman, finding happiness and getting her perfect romantic comedy ending. Mindy shares a practice with three doctors, none of whom makes life any easier for her.  There’s Dr. Danny Castellano (Chris Messina), whose on-again-off-again romance with Mindy keeps the office staff on their toes, Dr. Jeremy Reed (Ed Weeks), the office’s managing partner and resident punching bag, and Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Palley), a high-fiving former frat boy, who knows nothing about the opposite sex, but insists on doling out relationship advice to Mindy.  Rounding out the ensemble is ex-con-turned-nurse Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz), the gossipy Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) and the grumpy Beverly (Beth Grant).

The series picked up numerous awards (Critics’ Choice, Gracie, Satellite) and nominations (People’s Choice, Writer’s Guild, Teen Choice, NAACP Image) for Best Comedy Series.

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Kaling, the first Indian-American to have her own TV series and one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, recently starred in, produced and wrote the semi-autobiographical theatrical feature Late Night co-starring Emma Thompson, and the Hulu miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Faith and Family SVOD Service Pure Flix to Bow Sitcom Starring Donna Mills

Faith and family subscription service Pure Flix (pureflix.com) Oct. 24 will debut a new sitcom “Mood Swings,” starring Donna Mills and Crystal Hunt.

New episodes will be released every Thursday for eight weeks on the $10.99-per-month service (following a free trial).

In the comedy, created by Hunt (“One Life To Live,” “The Guiding Light”), four generations of women are thrown together by circumstance to live under one roof and survive in Los Angeles. Newly divorced from her mega-successful, controlling and philandering husband, Farrah (Hunt) is awarded the couple’s Malibu mansion along with an enormous mortgage and minimal financial support to take care of herself and 8-year-old son Ryder. Recognizing she needs an income, she decides to rent out rooms in her house in order to pay the bills.

In addition to Mills and Hunt, the series stars Robin Riker (“The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital”), Sophia Gasca (“Ballers”), Christina DeRosa (Bad Moms), Scott Bailey (“The Bay,” “Ray Donovan”) and Jason Earles (“Hannah Montana”) and Dyan Cannon.

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The series is written by sitcom veteran Bob Colleary (“Golden Girls,” “The Facts of Life,” “Touched by an Angel”), Danielle Bisutti and Hunt, and directed by Sean Lambert (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Kickin’ It,” “Grounded for Life”). Hunt is the executive producer.

“We felt there was a need for a great female ensemble comedy,” said Hunt in a statement. “Right now, you can only watch reruns of shows like ‘Golden Girls’ and ‘Designing Women’ to enjoy a female-driven show. Our thinking was to embrace the legacy of these programs while adding a modern twist.”

Scottsdale Ariz.-based Pure Flix features faith, family-friendly and wholesome entertainment in the United States and Canada, according to the company, with a vision “to positively influence the global culture for Christ through media.”

Netflix to Get ‘Seinfeld’ in 2021

Netflix has acquired the global streaming rights to “Seinfeld” starting in 2021, the company announced.

The agreement with Sony Pictures Television keeps the show exclusively on Netflix for five years, according to reports. Netflix will offer the show in 4K resolution.

“Seinfeld,” following the misadventures of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his friends, aired for nine seasons with 180 episodes on NBC from 1989 to 1998.

“Seinfeld is the television comedy that all television comedy is measured against,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “It is as fresh and funny as ever and will be available to the world in 4K for the first time.”

“Seinfeld is a one-of-a-kind, iconic, culture-defining show,” said Sony Pictures Television chairman Mike Hopkins in a statement. “Now, 30 years after its premiere, Seinfeld remains center stage. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring this beloved series to current fans and new audiences around the globe.”

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The news comes on the heels of Netflix’s loss of major sitcom catalog hits “Friends” and “The Office” to WarnerMedia and Universal, respectively.

Netflix to Produce NASCAR Sitcom Starring Kevin James

Kevin James (“The King of Queens,” Paul Blart; Mall Cop, True Memoirs of an International Assassin and Grown Ups) will star in and executive produce a new multicam sitcom, “The Crew,” for Netflix.

Set in a NASCAR garage, the comedy follows a crew chief (James). When the owner steps down and passes the team off to his daughter, the chief finds himself at odds with the tech reliant millennials she starts bringing in to modernize the team.

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Jeff Lowell (“The Ranch,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Spin City”) will serve as writer, showrunner and executive producer. Jeff Sussman (“The King of Queens,” Paul Blart; Mall Cop, True Memoirs of an International Assassin and Grown Ups) will serve as an executive producer. Todd Garner (Tag, Isn’t It Romantic, Mortal Kombat) will serve as an executive producer. Matt Summers and Tim Clark will serve as executive producers for NASCAR.

Final Season, Full Series Set of ‘Broad City’ Coming to DVD July 9 From Paramount

The fifth and final season and full series set of critically acclaimed series “Broad City” will arrive on DVD July 9 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.

Executive produced by Amy Poehler, “Broad City” stars series creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer​, as a pair navigating their 20s in New York. The show’s many guest stars have included Fred Armisen, Amy Sedaris, Seth Rogen, RuPaul, Kumail Nanjiani, Kelly Ripa, Jane Curtin, Fran Drescher, Amy Ryan, Aidy Bryant, Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon, Seth Green, Tracee Ellis Ross, Hillary Clinton, Tony Danza and Wanda Sykes.​

“Broad City” season five will be available in a two-DVD set and “Broad City” The Complete Series will be available in an 11-DVD set, which includes an extra disc of special features.

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Season 1 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; outtakes and deleted scenes;  video commentary on select episodes; and a photo gallery. Season 2 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; outtakes and deleted scenes;  a pop-up enhanced episode; “Hack Into Broad City”; and “Body by Trey” videos. Season 3 includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; “Behind the Scenes with Broad City”;  deleted scenes; and NOMO FOMO, an art show about broads in the city. Season 4 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; “Behind Broad City”; and deleted and extended scenes. Season 5 (two discs) includes 10 episodes; “Hack Into Broad City”; and  outtakes and deleted/extended scenes. The complete series special features disc includes “Abbi & Ilana’s Broad City”; “Behind the Scenes,” which includes two set tours and two featurettes on the costumes; a fan surprise; “The Making of Season 5,” which includes three featurettes, one of which is exclusive to the DVD; and “A NYC Broad City Send-Off Fit for a Queen” exclusive to the DVD.