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Overwhelmed, audiences turn to 90s TV hits

Nostalgia TV // Illustration by Kate Walker

Overwhelmed, audiences turn to 90s TV hits


Future. Despite the endless stream of new shows to watch, many audiences are going back to 90s sitcoms as a form of comfort viewing. While the content boom shows no signs of slowing down, having a marquee show like Friends or Seinfeld may be the ultimate growth engine for streamers right now.

Watchlist overload
In a sea of endless content, films and TV shows from the 90s are becoming hits once again.

  • WSJ reports that shows such as FriendsSabrina the Teenage Witch, and several titles that frequented Nick at Nite have become insanely popular in recent years.
  • And streamers are aware of the trend — reboots, remakes, and reimaginings are becoming a dime a dozen.
  • Take Disney, for example, which announced in 2020 that 43 of the 63 new titles it announced for the service were based on pre-existing IP.
  • Disney even advertised movies such as Cool Runnings and The Parent Trap (the Lindsey Lohan version, obviously) with the question “feeling nostalgic?”

It’s no wonder studios are pulling back licensing rights for those titles from other streamers or paying an arm and a leg to secure ones that feel like they capture the same vibe.

Security stream
So, what’s with all the 90s love all of a sudden?

  • There’s a lot of new shows out there (a record 559 last year, according to FX Research) which is overwhelming audiences.
  • So, having an older hit show on a service is invaluable for drawing eyeballs and also helping those with choice fatigue.
  • Nicole Clemens, president of Paramount+ and Paramount Television, said nostalgic shows could bridge the generational divide of audiences under one roof.

Another reason: people are bummed. A pandemic, economic hardship, and war have got people down… and sometimes, a funny episode of Friends is the only thing anyone is in the mood to watch.

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