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The Office is moving its streaming home.
The NBC cult favorite will leave Netflix when its current deal with the streamer expires at the end of 2020. NBCUniversal’s forthcoming direct-to-consumer platform will then be the exclusive streaming home for all nine seasons of the comedy starting in 2021. NBCU’s streaming platform will retain exclusive domestic streaming rights to The Office for five years, paying $100 million per year to stream the series and outbidding Netflix for the rights. Producers Universal Television held the auction, which sources describe as “arms length” in process. That means that Universal Television and potential bidders, like sibling company NBCU streaming and Netflix — were kept far apart in a bid to ensure a fair auction and that profit participants got the best deal for the series.
Sources say Universal was shopping The Office and had considered numerous deals, including sharing it with Netflix in a non-exclusive pact with the right to take it back after a year.
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,” Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal DTC and digital enterprises, said Tuesday ina statement. “We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.”
NBCU’s streaming platform will control domestic streaming rights to The Office. The multiple international streaming deals will remain in place for the time being.
The move was expected as multiple media behemoths — including NBCUniversal parent Comcast, WarnerMedia and Disney — are all launching streaming services of their own and need library programming to bolster their inventory. (That is, of course, similar to how Netflix originally started as a subscription streaming service on which to watch licensed film and TV library offerings.)
The move also comes with a significant financial loss as NBCU could have opted to take a page from Warner Bros. and license The Office to Netflix for a sizable fee. Warners last year added a year to Netflix’s deal for the mega-hit Friends in a pact worth $100 million. That deal keeps Friends on Netflix through the end of 2019, with WarnerMedia’s streaming service expected to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. Friends is also expected to leave Netflix after that deal expires as WarnerMedia’s Kevin Reilly previously told reporters that it “wasn’t a good idea to share” such crown jewels as Friends.
“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 wrote.
As for The Office, the Universal TV comedy starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski and Mindy Kaling and from executive producer Greg Daniels, NBCU says the series is the No. 1 show across all subscription video on demand services. It was streamed more than 52 billion minutes and, in April of this year, was viewed nearly twice as much as the next most-viewed program on SVOD. (Streamers including Netflix do not release viewership data.)
“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 UTV president Pearlena Igbokwe.
NBCUniversal’s ad-supported streaming service is set to launch in 2020 and will feature TV and film franchises from within the company as well as homegrown original programming and content from outside studios.
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