NBC has reportedly discussed pulling 'The Office' from Netflix to fuel its own streaming service

NBC‘The Office’
  • NBCUniversal will launch its own ad-supported streaming service in 2020.
  • NBCUniversal has had internal discussions about pulling “The Office” from Netflix, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told the Journal in January that the company could consider moving “The Office” from Netflix to the new service.
  • “The Office” and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” are two of Netflix’s most popular shows, according to data from analytics firm Jumpshot provided to Business Insider.

When Netflix first launched its streaming platform over a decade ago, it used a big catalogue of traditional TV shows to kickstart viewership. Now, as more media giants plan to launch their own streaming competitors, Netflix is in jeopardy of losing some of its most popular shows.

NBCUniversal has had internal discussions about removing “The Office” from the streaming giant when its contract expires in 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

NBCUniversal declined to comment to Business Insider.

NBCUniversal announced in January that it plans to launch its own ad-supported streaming service in 2020 that would be free to users who already subscribe to traditional pay TV through companies like Comcast and Sky. The service could include popular NBC TV shows and Universal movies, as well as original content.

READ MORE: Netflix won a big victory in its fight to have its movies continue to be eligible for Oscars

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told the Journal in January that the company may consider moving “The Office” from Netflix to the new streaming service.

That’s bad news for Netflix because “The Office” is its most popular show, according to data from analytics firm Jumpshot provided to Business Insider. And NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” is its third most popular show.

The chart below shows the 10 most popular shows on Netflix of 2018, courtesy of Jumpshot, which “tracks five billion actions a day across 100 million devices to deliver insights into online consumer behaviour”:

Most popular netflix shows 2018 chartShayanne Gal/Business Insider

Netflix’s second most popular show, the Warner Bros.-owned “Friends,” is safe on Netflix – for now. The hit 1990s sitcom will remain on the service through 2019, but WarnerMedia will have the option of also including it on its own streaming service that’s expected to launch later this year.

Netflix is paying up to $US100 million for “Friends,” according to The New York Times, significantly more than the $US30 million it was paying per year for the rights.

A similar scenario could happen with “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” and more NBC shows. Other NBC shows in Netflix’s top 50, according to Jumpshot, included “The Good Place” and “The West Wing.” Would Netflix drop so much money for multiple shows when it’s already investing heavily in original content? 85% of new spending in 2018 went toward originals.

Netflix anticipated the competition, so it will likely continue to focus on original programming over licensing agreements.

“The way we look at this long term is that our competitors will want that content on their own services,” Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos said during an earnings call last year. “That was a bet we’ve made a long time ago when we got into original programming.”

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