AT&T pulls Friends from Net­flix

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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 in spring of 2020. As the name sug­gests, it will con­tain HBO con­tent, other video from the Warner Bros. stu­dio – like Friends – and new se­ries and movies that are ex­clu­sive to the ser­vice. AT&T has not an­nounced a price.

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. It could also cre­ate a con­fus­ing and ex­pen­sive sit­u­a­tion for con­sumers, who have to de­cide which of all these ex­ist­ing and new video ser­vices is worth the cost.

AT&T’s de­ci­sion fol­lows Com­cast’s NBCUniver­sal say­ing 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.

It is also mak­ing orig­i­nal movies and se­ries for the ser­vice, in­clud­ing a ro­man­tic com­edy with Anna Ken­drick and at least two movies pro­duced by Reese Wither­spoon.

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