Was it worth paying a reported $500 million for five years of exclusive streaming rights to nine seasons of “The Office”?
While it’s still early days, the show is so far proving to be the biggest driver of paid sign-ups for NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamer, which rolled out nationwide last July.
Peacock drew more paid sign-ups around the Jan. 1 introduction of “The Office” than during its nationwide launch in July 2020 — or around any other programming event to date, including the start of the Premier League — according to data from subscription analytics firm Antenna.
While the first two seasons of the show are accessible to users of Peacock’s ad-supported free tier, only paid subscribers to the $4.99-per-month ad-supported Premium tier and the $9.99-per-month ad-free Premium Plus tier can access seasons three through nine.
Peacock saw a 9 percentage-point increase in signups for Premium Plus in the first two weeks of January, Antenna reports. Overall, the show’s launch drove 3.9 times more paid sign-ups compared to the service’s average weekend in December.
While TVOD purchases of the series also spiked, Antenna saw 177% more paid signups for Peacock than TVOD transactions for “The Office” on Jan. 1.
“The Office” was by far the most-streamed show for several years before NBCU snatched it away (57 billion minutes of the show streamed on Netflix during 2020 alone).
Yet, demand for the show leaped by 39% within the first three days it was on Peacock compared to its last day on Netflix — and it maintained increased demand during its first 20 days on Peacock, according to Parrot Analytics data cited by The Verge.
“The rediscovery of this show by new audiences could be driving a longer-term resurgence,” observed Parrot analyst Wade Payson-Denney.
The show’s debut on Peacock presumably contributed to a supposed surge in signups between Dec. 8, 2020, when NBCU CEO Jeff Shell reported 26 million users, and late January, when he reported 33 million users, without specifying how many are paid. (The Information subsequently reported that an internal NBCU document showed just 11.3 million “monthly active ad-supported accounts” around the same time, though NBCU termed that number “low.”)
Of course, NBCU is doing everything possible to leverage its investment in the show.
“The Office” is now the “deliberate centerpiece” of Peacock, noted The Ringer. “Fire up the service on your TV and you’ll be met with three separate prompts to watch ‘The Office,’ all before you encounter an original show like ‘A.P. Bio’ or even a licensed title like ‘Jurassic Park.’
There’s the plain-Jane, nine-season version, of course. But there are also ‘superfan episodes,’ featuring extended cuts of Season 3’s 23 installments. (More seasons will get the expanded treatment starting in March.) Then there’s the portal to The Office Collection, an exhaustive compilation of clips and episodes sorted into every category imaginable”… Plus an entire channel (The Office Zen) dedicated to replicating the sights and sounds of an office for those working from home.
NBCU is also using navigation features for “The Office” to suggest other on-the-job-themed shows and movies available on Peacock.
As for Netflix, which is now focused on building out a library of originals and deemphasizing licensing of existing content from third parties, losing “The Office” may not end up being a significant blow after all.
According to Antenna, there was no meaningful impact on Netflix churn among U.S. subscribers who made TVOD purchases of “The Office,” as those customers likely considered the purchase a supplement to their Netflix subscriptions.
Netflix subscribers who signed up for Peacock in January did show a 4.7-percentage point increase in churn compared to those who didn’t sign up for Peacock. But since fewer than 1% of Netflix subscribers signed up for Peacock, Netflix’s overall churn rate “was not materially impacted,” reports Antenna.
In other words, with nearly 204 million global subscribers, Netflix may be so entrenched as a portal for entertainment that losing even its most popular syndicated show can’t make much of a dent.