“Seinfeld,” one of the most beloved television series of all time, may soon be available to stream online as three major companies negotiate with Sony Pictures TV. Amazon, Hulu and Yahoo are all vying to bring the series to the Web, while Netflix has dropped out of the running, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The series comprises 172 episodes across nine seasons; it originally aired on NBC between 1989 and 1998 and would take about 70 hours, or just shy of three days, to watch from start to finish.
The deal for the total package could top $100 million, Variety reported, as Sony is likely to aim for a rate that is above the $500,000 per episode fee that Netflix paid last year to show “Friends.” The lucrative contract has the potential to bring a large segment of viewers to one of three bidders that have all lagged behind Netflix in developing their streaming platforms. A record 76 million viewers tuned in to the final episode of "Seinfeld" when it aired in May of 1998, when the show’s ratings were at an all-time high.
The series already has racked up $3.1 billion in syndication fees since that episode, as reported by the Independent. Sony, which manages distribution of the series, stands to profit from the new deal, but so does the program’s owner Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc., and, of course, series creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Seinfeld and David already have earned about $400 million each from syndication fees, though David once called such estimates “crazy” on 60 Minutes.
TBS has been airing “Seinfeld” reruns steadily since 2002 for about $1 million per episode, according to Variety, and recently was caught speeding up episodes in order to pack in more time for advertising. An online streaming deal would primarily target a segment of viewers who do not own TVs and should not compromise the station's longstanding rerun rights or poach many of its viewers, reported the Journal.