Netflix is losing "The Office" in 2021. It's a sign of how intense the streaming wars have become.
NBC is taking back the popular sitcom to offer on its own streaming platform in January 2021, Netflix announced Tuesday on its official Twitter account.
NBC confirmed it has secured "exclusive domestic streaming rights" for all nine seasons of the series in a news release. It will be available on the company's new service for five years.
It's not much of a surprise that NBC wants "The Office" for itself. The show is a viewership juggernaut.
"The Office," which debuted on NBC in 2005, was streamed for about 52 billion minutes in 2018, according to Nielsen data referenced by NBC in its news release Tuesday. In April, the show was viewed nearly twice as much as the next most-viewed program on streaming on-demand video, NBC added.
The show, which stars Steve Carell as the boss of a paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has been a staple of Netflix's streaming arsenal. The service has had the rights to the show since 2007.
But the streaming landscape is changing now, and legacy media companies are trying to draw viewers with their own products. That has complicated things for Netflix, which built its business model on content licensed from other companies.
Last year, for example, rumors that the beloved sitcom "Friends" was leaving the service sent the internet into a frenzy. Netflix reportedly paid WarnerMedia at least $80 million for the rights to stream "Friends" this year. (WarnerMedia is the parent company of CNN.) WarnerMedia, which also owns HBO and Warner Bros., is now planning to launch its own streaming service.
Disney, meanwhile, pulled content from Netflix in advance of its own streaming debut. Its Disney+ service launches later this year.
Netflix has been preparing for the loss of many of its licensed shows. The company has spent a lot of money bulking up its own original programming.
And though the service is losing "The Office," it's already going after the next-best thing. Earlier this year, Netflix announced that it snagged a new show called "Space Force" that stars Carell and will be created by TV developer and producer Greg Daniels — the man who adapted "The Office" for American television.
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