Why the ‘Friends’ reunion is a critical moment for HBO Max

The long-awaited and much anticipated “Friends” reunion is coming to HBO Max at last.

“Friends: The Reunion” will debut on the WarnerMedia streaming service on May 27. (HBO Max is owned by WarnerMedia, which is also the parent company of CNN.)

The event, which brings together stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer was supposed to be a key part of HBO Max’s launch last May, but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, before you get excited about the possibility of seeing what happened to Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Monica and Phoebe after the 2004 final episode, keep in mind that this is a reunion, but it’s not a reunion episode.

The stars of the NBC sitcom, which ran for 10 seasons, will return to show’s original soundstage on the Warner Bros. lot “for a real-life unscripted celebration of the beloved show,” according to HBO Max.

There will also big many special guests including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Tom Selleck, Reese Witherspoon and Malala Yousafzai, some of whom appeared on the show while others are fans.

Even though it’s a year later than originally planned, the debut of the reunion is still a big moment for HBO Max.

“Friends” is one of the most buzzworthy shows that the service has and a pricey one at that. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that HBO Max is paying $425 million to carry reruns of the series for five years.

As streaming services battle it out for consumers’ time and money, content remains a big driver to bringing in subscribers.

So having a series like “Friends” and exclusive events like this reunion are enormously important to HBO Max’s subscriber growth and bottom line. WarnerMedia reported in April that HBO and HBO Max has 44.2 million subscribers and 63.9 million worldwide subscribers.

The comedy, which debuted in 1994 and followed the misadventures of singles living in New York City, is one of the most popular and beloved sitcoms in TV history and gained a new life with younger generations thanks to streaming on Netflix.