The hundreds of millions shelled out for streaming rights, respectively, for The Office, Friends, The Big Bang Theory and Seinfeld "will certainly make some studios rich and assure fans the shows will exist online, somewhere, for the foreseeable future. But it ignores a fundamental question: How exactly are these shows valued?" says Steven Zeitchik. "More important, it ignores the fact that nobody seems to know the answer." As experts point out, "the profit-and-loss statement is out the window, being replaced by … nobody knows," says Zeitchik. "The value of classic shows was once easily quantified, via the syndication model. There was practically a formula. A buyer calculated the ratings in first-run and repeats. Then they looked at how much ad money a show thus rated could garner. Then they agreed to prices accordingly. The equation was simple: You wanted to sell enough ads to justify your cost. It didn’t always work out, of course. But there was a road map. Streaming now, though, appears to be a total gamble. How do you measure the value of a show to a streamer? The number of people who signed up for the service specifically because of that show? Well, that’s probably not very many, at least who are documentable. What about the general luster a top-tier comedy hit accrues back to a streaming brand? Sure, but how exactly do you measure that, let alone put a dollar figure on it?"
The race to snag old shows leads nowhere: "Reruns of Friends and The Office have been a phenomenon for Netflix, but they aren't a lock to attract subscribers in the coming streaming wars," says Peter Rubin, adding: "They're the strongest evidence yet that the streaming wars are splintering the landscape into something that looks a lot like cable used to—and that the people writing checks might be overvaluing nostalgia."
Peacock could spell trouble for Hulu: "Think of Hulu as a child of divorce," says Julia Alexander. "It was once owned by a number of companies who saw Hulu as their entry point into online streaming, including AT&T’s WarnerMedia, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast’s NBC Universal. Hulu was a direct competitor to Netflix, letting major networks pull in short-term streaming money without having to worry about running their own services or ceding ground to Netflix...Now, that logic has changed, and the marriage is splitting up...Hulu went from being in a blended family to having one parent: Disney."