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Photo by George Lange/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Streaming services are putting up billions of dollars to win the rights to TV classics like "Friends" and "Seinfeld," both of which debuted over 2 decades ago on broadcast.

Why it matters: Many of these classic shows had previously been made available on other streaming services, but they're now being scooped up — and often for a lot more cash — by rivals that think they're necessary to compete for users.

Expand chart
Table: Axios Visuals

Yes, but: One of the biggest challenges the streaming industry will face in the next few years is that there's no real way to determine how much companies should actually shell out for content.

  • When it comes to traditional television, Nielsen ratings have for years guided executives in deciding how much to pay for content and whether it's even worth an investment. In the streaming era, no such metric exists.
  • And although Nielsen has begun putting out ratings for some streaming properties like Netflix, the streamers don't rely on them. Netflix famously called Nielsen's estimates "inaccurate" when they were first debuted in 2017.

Case-in-point: Hulu, which currently owns the streaming rights for Seinfeld, reportedly paid $130 million for the rights to stream the show domestically over 6 years starting in 2015 (Amazon currently has the international rights). Netflix, meanwhile, reportedly paid more than $500 million for the global streaming rights for Seinfeld over 5 years starting in 2021.

Yes, but: There is some consensus among analysts that older shows, sometimes dubbed "catalog content" by industry professionals, help reduce subscriber "churn," or subscriber losses.

  • The idea is that while investing in new content may be an effective way to draw a subscriber in, the way to keep them from canceling their subscriptions once they've finished new content is to give them access to deep libraries of old classics.
  • Even for streamers like Netflix that have already spent years building big libraries of original and licensed content, catalog content is critical— hence Netflix's big investment in Seinfeld.

What to watch: Streamers will eventually need to invest in their own versions of what will one day be considered catalog content. Netflix and Hulu have been able to do this with a few popular original series like "Orange is the New Black" and "The Handmaid's Tale."

Go deeper: Streaming's cancel culture problem

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
11 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.