February 1, 2021
On New Year’s Day, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service acquired away from Netflix exclusive streaming rights to reruns of “The Office,” in a license deal reportedly worth $500 million. Episodes of the ensemble-cast sitcom, which last broadcast in primetime on NBC in 2013, have regularly ranked among Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streamed content on the television. Indeed, “The Office” was by far the top TV show in minutes watched in 2020, according to Nielsen.
That acquisition appears to be paying off for Peacock. Speaking on the Jan. 28 fiscal call, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said the right things about the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company series, which co-starred Steve Carell and John Krasinski, among others.
“We’ve had it now for almost a month, very pleased with how it’s doing,” Shell said. “Our usage among our customers are actually higher than we think the usage was among Netflix customers.”
With Peacock marketed as a hybrid SVOD/AVOD service, with an emphasis on ad-supported video, NBCUniversal is using the initial season of “The Office” and other high-profile content as a loss-leader for Peacock’s free option, with access to subsequent seasons on Peacock’s two paid tiers ($4.99 with ads; $9.99 without).
“We’re seeing that people who are watching ‘The Office’ on Peacock are watching lots of other comedies,” Shell said. “So it’s really driving usage of ‘Parks & Recreation,’ and really driving ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ among others.”
NBCUniversal employed the strategy acquiring streaming rights to England’s Premier League soccer, which Shell said has driven viewership of Western drama “Yellowstone.” He said the recent license deal involving the WWE Network streaming service would help generate viewership for WWE events on USA Network, among other content.
“We believe, there’s kind of an ecosystem here, like the whole world of broadcast where … we can cross promote people into different things,” Shell said. “And that certainly seems to be working and ‘The Office’ has really helped.”