What Happened to All The Classic TV Shows on Netflix?

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what happened to the classic tv on netflix

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Loaded up Netflix recently and thought, “where have all the classic TV shows on Netflix gone?”. You’re not alone. Throughout the past 5 years, Netflix has lost a considerable amount of TV series from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and even through to the early 2000s and sadly, the trend is likely to continue, not stop.

Before we dive into the reasons behind your favorite older classic TV shows leaving Netflix, let’s have a quick “In Memorium” of a few of the key shows that’s departed throughout the years:

  • The Twilight Zone & Twin Peaks – removed in July 2021
  • Tales of the City – removed in June 2021
  • That 70s Show – removed in September 2020
  • The Andy Griffith Show – removed in July 2020
  • Bob Ross collection – removed in June 2020

Going back even further, Netflix used to be the home of M.A.S.H., Lost, Cheers and many many more.

For anyone that’s been following this blog at all or even following Netflix and the current media landscape, the answer may be somewhat obvious to you.

The shows in question are all expiring from Netflix because the distributors of these shows all having different objectives to what they were only a few years ago. In almost all cases, the shows have left to go back into the control of the original licensor and bolster their rival streaming service.

Ultimately, it comes down to competition and the best way to compete with Netflix is not to license out some of your valuable catalog to them, no matter how much Netflix is/was willing to pay.

It’s not a complete exodus of classic TV shows from Netflix, however. While providers like Disney, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS have all pulled or still continue to pull back their content, there are a few that still license on a per-show basis. We’re talking about Sony Television Pictures and MGM who have both licensed older content to Netflix over the past few years. Sony is perhaps the biggest with one of their biggest titles from the 1990s, Seinfeld, due to hit the service globally imminently. MGM have licensed out some of the older Stargate series although whether this continues with Amazon set to be the new owner remains to be seen.

There are a few other places to mine for classic TV such as Carsey-Werner but naturally, they all come at a high price.

Netflix has been doing a sterling job at creating content as part of its Netflix Original library. They’ve nearly been creating Netflix Originals for 10 years and there are well north of 2,000 of them in the United States representing over 40% of the total library. With that said, try as they might, they probably just can’t tap into that nostalgia factor that some of the classic TV series presented.

They have managed to revive a number of shows over the past few years (Fuller House, Tales of the City) which can give you a bit of a nostalgia kick but even those are dropping off for the same reasons as we mentioned above.

But ultimately, if you’re looking for classic TV. Netflix is not the number 1 destination and will unlikely return to that position without a big acquisition.

Now let’s hear what you’ve got to say on the matter. Are classic TV shows important to you? Would you like to see more on Netflix and where have you found a better collection of classic shows? Let us know in the comments.

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Founder of What's on Netflix and based in Norwich in the United Kingdom, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for a decade having started the site in 2013. Kasey maintains the what's new on Netflix library, keeps the coming soon lists up-to-date and writes about new and upcoming projects. Contact: kasey@whats-on-netflix.com