NBCUniversal Claims Streaming Rights to ‘The Office’ for 2021-2026

To anyone excited to see yet another contender in the streaming wars – and lets face it, to many it just looks like a bunch of pigs shoving their way to a trough filled with tofu-bacon – there’s a new option with NBCUniversal‘s streaming set for release mid next year.

Deadline reports that they intend to compete directly with the still-reigning king, Netflix for your streaming dollar and right off the bat will reclaim all nine seasons of The Office. This will likely be a significant blow to Netflix’s viewership as the popular sitcom is believed in some circles to be the most popular streamed show ever.

Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises said this in a press statement:

The Office has become a staple of pop-culture and is a rare gem whose relevance continues to grow at a time when fans have more entertainment choices than ever before. We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.”

Netflix‘s response to the news was a subtle dig towards the future plans of NBCUniversal:

“We’re sad that NBC has decided to take The Office back for its own streaming platform, but members can binge watch the show to their hearts’ content ad-free on Netflix until January 2021.”

NBCU will be tackling the future of streaming with a much more familiar tack, bringing advertisers on board so as to offer their service freely. Chief of advertising sales Linda Yaccarino said this in May:

“Next year we’re going to unveil the largest initiative in our company’s history: We’re going to have our own ad-supported platform. While other companies are pushing advertisers out, we’re bringing them in. It will have a slate of originals and a gigantic library of all favorites. The shows that people love the most and stream the most are coming home at a price that every person can afford: free.”

So, I’ve said it before; the streaming landscape is far from being defined. Today, the notion of free-view-style advertising seems ludicrous; we pay for a service, we get original content/show reruns and the occasional movie we’d want to watch (also lots and lots of Hindi TV shows for some reason) and that content is not broken up into seven minute blocks. To me at least this seems like a fair compromise, because I’m one of those random people who cannot abide TV advertising and have not watched normal television in many years in large part due to this.

But I ain’t everyone and I wonder if the free option won’t just change the basic dynamic of everything in the future. Will this finally democratise streaming TV (which in a way had a reverse evolution to the cable TV industry) and lead to others taking this leap?

Will, when faced with dozens of companies all trying to squeeze us for ten bucks a month, most people just say “screw it” and stick to what they are most familiar with, except with the convenience of watching their favourite shows and movies on their devices?

With the new deal for The Office, while far from a death-knell, it does seem as though the service may be losing some blood; as more and more companies take back their shows and movies for their own streaming services, I can’t help but Chicken Little just a bit and hope that they don’t go down the way of death from a thousand cuts.

What do you think is in store for the future once all this craziness settles down?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!