The Office, which was Netflix’s most-watched series in the U.S. last year, will be leaving the platform in 2021 and moving to NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service.
The as-yet-named new streaming service, which is expected to launch in 2020, will have exclusive domestic streaming rights to all nine seasons of the sitcom for five years beginning in 2021. NBCUniversal originally produced The Office.
The programming decision speaks to how these media production companies will juggle using their own IP on their new upcoming streaming services with making that content available on other popular services that could potentially bring in new audiences.
Losing The Office—which still resonates with audiences six years after its serres finale—is a blow to Netflix, which has seen great success in streaming the show. According to Nielsen’s SVOD Content Ratings to measure U.S. connected devices, which account for 70%–80% of total Netflix viewing in the country, The Office was last year’s most-watched series on the service, with 52.1 billion minutes streamed (followed by Friends, then Grey’s Anatomy).
“The Office has become a staple of pop-culture and is a rare gem whose relevance continues to grow at a time when fans have more entertainment choices than ever before,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises, in a statement. “We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.”
Linda Yaccarino, chairman, NBCUniversal, advertising and partnerships, had hinted at NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation in May that The Office would be moving to the new streaming service, when she told buyers, “the shows that people love the most and stream the most are coming home.”
Given the popularity of the series, Comcast was expected to pull rights from Netflix when its current rights agreement expires next year. Similarly, WarnerMedia, which will also soon release its own OTT offering, did not give Netflix exclusive streaming rights to Friends after the last rights deal for that show expired and is expected to eventually stream the show exclusively on its own service.
NBCUniversal’s ad-supported service is expected to also include original programming as well as content from other producers.
“The Office is one of our most prized series, and we are thrilled it has found an exciting new home where generation after generation will continue to discover and rediscover Michael Scott’s most cringe-worthy moments, Jim and Pam’s will-they-or-won’t-they and the incredible quirky ensemble that makes each episode a masterclass in comedy,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, president, Universal Television, in a statement.
Netflix tweeted that it was “sad” to be losing The Office, but reminded subscribers that the series will remain on its platform until January 2021.