As we hit the afternoon of second day of the new year, many Friends fans might already be eyeballs deep streaming the entire series after its Jan. 1 release on Netflix. But with the super fans come super powers of observation, including a discrepancy noticed by a Consumerist reader we’ll call Gunther. He wondered why the Netflix episodes seemed to be shorter by about three minutes on average than the episodes included in his complete DVD set, noting that the originally aired episodes would’ve been closer to the length of the Netflix episodes.
“I’ve been looking forward to seeing Friends on Netflix for months now. It finally hit the streaming service yesterday,” writes Gunther. “The problem is that the DVDs I have of the show average 25 minutes an episode and the shows on Netflix are averaging 22 minutes.”
He adds that there’s no mention on his DVD set that it’s an expanded edition, and on Netflix there’s nothing saying that the episodes are cut or clarifying that they’re shown “as originally aired.”
“What is going on?” Gunther asks.
It’s a good question, and one that has been answered before, at least in terms of varying episode length between different releases of this particular series. (If you’re worried about discrepancies in other shows and their various releases, well, that’s another question for another time.)
Back in 2012, TVGuide.com addressed the question of why the newly-released BluRay set of Friends touted lots of extra goodies and behind-the-scenes action, but didn’t include deleted footage that had previously been added to the DVD sets.
“The deleted footage was, frankly, added specifically for one home video release,” explained co-executive producer/director Kevin S. Bright. “If fans are particularly interested in additional footage, those versions are still available. But for this, we wanted something that we, the creators, felt represented the show as we always wanted it to be remembered, which is the original NBC broadcast versions, which have never before been released as that, combined with fantastic new picture and sound, a new documentary and other new features.”
We got in touch with a Netflix representative who confirmed to Consumerist that yes, the episodes airing on Netflix are the same length/content as those that aired originally on TV, which should be the same as those included in the BluRay sets.
Consumerist also reached out to Warner Bros. in regards to Gunther’s DVD set, and why, if indeed his claim is correct, there’s no indication that the episodes are longer than originally aired/contain deleted footage. We’ll update this post if we hear back.