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‘Friends’ DVD Sales Are Soaring After Netflix Exit. Let’s Bring Back VHS Tapes Next

Old media will be!


Netflix lost Friends with the new year, and apart from a smattering of episodes available on TBS and Nick at Nite’s websites, the series won’t be back on a streaming service until HBO Max launches in May. Faced with this monthslong gap, fans of the show are going back to an old standby: the box set.

Amazon sales of the DVD and Blu-ray box sets peaked in late December and January as obsessives of the show who watch and rewatch it over and over again coped with its departure from Netflix, where it had been available since January 1, 2015.

That means a lot of people are rediscovering—or, if they’re young enough, discovering for the first time—the pleasures of physical media.

There’s the lack of “Are you still there?” shaming mid-binge.

There’s also the fact that the DVDs have uncut episodes with exclusive scenes that weren’t in the Netflix version of the show.

The Wall Street Journal asked a bunch of fans of the show how they were handling the situation. Many described hunting down DVDs secondhand; some even had to get a DVD player, so dependent were they on streaming.

One enterprising teenage fan of the show even described using a VPN to stream the series on Netflix, an effective solution given the series’s continued availability on the service in international markets but a no-no according to the streamer’s terms of service.

And having recently been burned, many fans are bypassing the chance to purchase digital copies of the series on services like iTunes and Prime Video, preferring the hold-it-in-your-hands security of physical media, which no intercorporate squabble can take away.

More streaming services are coming, and tussling over the rights to shows like Friends is guaranteed to continue. Something similar is likely going to happen when The Office, another beloved NBC sitcom, departs the service in a year.

So if you’re paying monthly for a streaming service that only has a couple of shows you like, consider going physical instead. You’ll save money in the long run, and you won’t have to worry about getting caught in the middle of internecine conflict between streaming services ever again.

And, once we’re all done stocking up on DVDs, let’s get some VHS tapes, too. Turns out VHS tapes are dirt cheap, and you can find some amazing movies that you can’t stream anywhere online. Old media for the win!