In January, The Hollywood Reporter quoted an NBC executive who said The Office was one of the most popular licensed properties on Netflix. It’s impossible to know for sure who’s watching what, and how much, on the streamer as they typically do not make their viewing numbers public. If anything, the company occasionally offers some figures in shareholder reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, it seems The Office is definitely one of the most watched shows on Netflix, and they’re afraid of losing it.
In the WSJ‘s report, which includes analysis conducted by Nielsen, it’s concluded that “the 10 shows people spent the most time watching on Netflix in the U.S. last year were reruns” of shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation and Grey’s Anatomy. This isn’t news to Netflix, of course, as they reportedly shelled out $80 million to keep Friends. But how long will this last?
It’s a question many have been asking recently and judging by the WSJ‘s numbers, there’s definitely cause for concern — especially since NBC Universal, Disney and WarnerMedia are all currently taking stock in order to launch their own streaming services:
Although Netflix has burnished its brand with a flood of original programs such as Stranger Things and The Crown — and spends most of its time on quarterly earnings calls discussing that content — nonoriginal “library programming” made up 72% of the minutes people spent watching Netflix as of October, according to the Nielsen data. That means reruns, and most of them are made by Netflix’s rivals.
Even so, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings doesn’t seem too concerned. In a recent call about business earnings, he said the company had been expecting, and preparing for, the loss of some of its biggest licensed titles. “[We’re] ready for it, anticipating it, and in fact, we are eager to have more and more of our money to be able to do spectacular new titles,” he explained. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos added that their original programming was what “our members most value us for, and the things that we really pay a lot of attention to.”
Either way, it sounds like Netflix is going to lose some of its most popular TV programming in the next few years. But at least the Academy ruled in their favor against Steven Spielberg!
UPDATE #1: The official Netflix Twitter account tweeted out a brief statement after the WSJ‘s story went viral. “The Office will be on Netflix until 2021 — at least!”
UPDATE #2: A Netflix spokesperson offered a statement of clarification regarding the hullabaloo over the streamer’s potentially losing the likes of The Office:
Looking at overall watch time skews towards titles with many seasons. Most Netflix originals have three or fewer seasons at most. It’s why we focus on the individual shows or films members watch, as opposed to how much time they spend on one series versus another. And if you look at most watched titles, Netflix originals accounted for 10 out of 10 in the last quarter, or 21 out of the top 25.
(Via Wall Street Journal)