Neighbours will return to television screens on Amazon Freevee after being dropped by Channel 5 in the United Kingdom. The long-running Australian serial drama ran for almost four decades. Amazon has done a deal with producers Fremantle that will renew production and premiere episodes exclusively on the Amazon Freevee online video service in the United Kingdom and the United States, with thousands of previous episodes available on demand. Network 10 will retain first-run rights in Australia for the new series, while it will be available online on Amazon Prime Video in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
The drama series first aired in Australia in March 1985 on the Seven Network but was cancelled after four months. It was picked up by rival Network 10 and went on to become the longest-running drama series on Australian television.
Neighbours ran on BBC One in the United Kingdom from October 1986 and gained large audiences, peaking at 21.16 million viewers on 26 January 1990 including the lunchtime airing and evening repeat. In 2008 it moved to Channel 5. The run ended when Channel 5, now owned by Paramount, pulled its funding, which largely paid for the production.
Neighbours launched the careers of many household names, including Kylie Minogue and Jason Donavan, who returned to make guest appearances in the last episode which aired in July 2022, with a consolidated audience of 4.02 million viewers in the United Kingdom, its highest figures since 2009.
It seems Amazon sees more potential in the soapie series, which may be a missed opportunity for Paramount. The show will resume shooting in early 2023 and return to screen later in the year.
“Neighbours has captivated its audience for nearly 40 years, building a dedicated and loyal following for the lives and stories of the characters on Ramsay Street,” said Lauren Anderson, head of AVOD original content and programming, Amazon Studios. “We’re able to offer a catalogue of thousands of Neighbours episodes for new audiences to discover this legendary series and current fans to relive their favourite moments.”
“Neighbours is a unique series with a powerful connection with its fans across the world. We cherish the show and all those who have been part of its incredible story over many decades, so we are thrilled that we have found a new home with Amazon Freevee. Thanks to the innovative Amazon Freevee platform, many classic episodes will be available to fans, and Neighbours will go back into full production in Australia early next year, providing our fans with new episodes,” said Jennifer Mullin, the group chief executive of Fremantle. “This partnership with Amazon Freevee marks an exciting new chapter, and we look forward to collaborating with them, along with our long-term and valued partner in Australia, Network 10.”
Freevee is the free online video service operated by Amazon. It was previously known as IMDb TV.