The Office will officially leave Netflix in 2021, NBC announced Tuesday. The popular sitcom will move exclusively to NBC’s new streaming service for at least five years, the company said.
The announcement was expected, since Netflix’s contract allowing it to stream all nine seasons of The Office expires in 2021. The comedy was the most-watched show on Netflix in 2018 and is a major draw for any streaming service. As NBC moves to build its own streaming empire, it makes sense that the company would take back one of its most popular television shows.
“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 to CNBC. “We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.”
Sitcoms that once aired on NBC are big draws for Netflix. The second-most popular show on the service is Friends — Netflix reportedly paid $100 million to keep streaming rights for Ross, Rachel, Joey, Chandler and Monica for just another year, through 2019. WarnerMedia, which owns Friends, plans to move it to its own streaming service as well.
For its part, Netflix is likely unsurprised by the move. More than any of its streaming contemporaries, Netflix has been investing heavily in original content in an effort to insulate itself from the loss of popular broadcast television shows as more and more media companies seek to create their own streaming portals.
“We’ve expected this decline in second window content, are ready for it, anticipating it, and in fact we are eager to have more and more of our money to be able to do spectacular new titles,” said CEO Reed Hastings in the company’s 2019 first-quarter investor conference call.
“Seven years ago, we thought it was likely [that some companies would take shows off Netflix] and thought we ought to get good at creating our own programming,” said the company’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos. “Every year, our percentage of spend and percentage of hours watched have continued to grow towards our owned original and branded on Netflix.”
Slated to debut in 2020, NBC’s forthcoming, ad-based streaming service won’t cost anything for traditional TV subscribers, but is expected to cost about $10 a month if you don’t have a cable package, according to CNBC.
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