TV | July 26, 2019 4:13 pm

Netflix Is Losing Its Most Watched Show to NBCUniversal

And NBC's new streaming service has a launch date

NBCUniversal Took Back "The Office" From Netflix

As of 2018, Netflix was offering 1,569 TV shows and 4,010 movies.

That’s a lot of content, and to carve out even a sliver of viewership percentage from it is saying something. Unless, of course, you’re The Office, which according to Nielsen has managed to account for 5% of that massive pie. The show was streamed for a preposterous 52 billion minutes in 2018, and in 2019 the second-place streaming show isn’t even close.

No wonder NBCUniversal, which officially launches its streaming service in April of next year, is taking the show back. The media conglomerate had to negotiate a five-year domestic streaming deal to bring Greg Daniels’s show home, realizing the show should prove a crucial draw to attracting customers to the new service. People may be fickle about where their streaming alliances lie, but they really don’t want to leave Scranton.

That said, some questions remain. The Office actually won’t be available on NBCUniversal when it launches in April 2020; according to the outlined deal, it will arrive January 2021. Without their “tentpole program” (as CEO Steve Burke called it earlier this month) immediately accessible, will people hold off on/forget about subscribing to the service? And even when The Office does arrive, NBCUniversal is going to be an ad-supported operation, which fundamentally fiddles with the beauty of the binge.

NBCUniversal will have to bring some heat with its original programming if it wants to survive in this increasingly crowded space. Amazon’s content side is a good model; shows like FleabagCatastrophe and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel have made it tough to look away. (They can also deliver bulk paper towel shipments in under 24 hours, which helps.) As for Netflix, they’ll survive. But they’ll be wary — and no doubt already are — of the dangers of losing acquired programming, especially when original shows or movies flop.

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