It’s official: The Office is leaving Netflix, but it’s not happening very soon. NBC announced today that it picked up the “exclusive” streaming rights to The Office for the United States, and that all nine seasons of the show will be available on NBC’s own streaming service beginning in 2021. The show will remain on Netflix until January 2021.
NBC’s streaming service will have ads, which is a fact that Netflix pointed out in a tweet responding to the news.
We’re sad that NBC has decided to take The Office back for its own streaming platform — but members can binge watch the show to their hearts’ content ad-free on Netflix until January 2021
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 25, 2019
According to NBC, The Office is the most popular show in all of streaming on-demand video. The show tallied an astounding 52 billion minutes of viewing time in 2018, according to NBC. And in April this year, it was watched for nearly double the amount of time as the most-viewed show on streaming video on-demand, though it’s unclear how NBC calculated that given it presumably doesn’t have access to streaming data for competing shows.
Whatever the case, The Office is wildly popular on Netflix in America. According to Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin Malone, it is Netflix’s most popular show “by far.”
NBC’s untitled streaming service is scheduled to launch in 2020 featuring a library that contains “some of the world’s most popular television and film franchises,” as well as brand-new shows and programs from other networks.
Before this announcement, one other possibility was for Netflix to pay NBC Universal to retain The Office. This likely would have cost Netflix a small fortune, as the streaming network reportedly paid $100 million to keep Friends on Netflix through 2019. Friends is believed to be Netflix’s No. 2 most popular show, so The Office presumably would have cost more to keep.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC is paying $100 million per year for five years to producers Universal Television to have The Office on the NBC streaming service. Universal Television and NBC are owned by the same company.
Also of note here is that NBC’s deal is for The Office’s domestic streaming rights, so it remains to be seen how this contract will affect streaming availability in other parts of the world. For example, The Office is available on the streaming platform Stan in Australia, not Netflix. The show is relatively new to Australia as well, having only just arrived on Stan in 2018.
In other news, a new version of The Office is reportedly in development, though whether or not it’s being made for TV or streaming remains to be seen.