Cherish this moment we’re in, when you can watch tons of TV favorites simply by logging onto Netflix or Hulu. For instance, right now you can fire up the former and put on that episode of The Office where Meredith gets tanked at the holiday party and sets her hair on fire. It’s a luxury you may not have starting in 2021, when parent company NBC could wind up collecting all its toys and going home, trapping them on their own forthcoming streaming service.
The news comes from a Wall Street Journal report on NBCUniversal’s planned service, which will join a marketplace soon to be crowded with so many individualized streaming giants — from Disney to Warner to the Criterion Collection service that will partially replace the axed FilmStruck — that no one could possibly afford them all. Business Insider teased out one of the bigger bombshells tucked away in the piece: That once Netflix’s license for The Office expires in two years, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke says they “may consider” keeping it for themselves.
Burke didn’t say that’s definitely what they would do, and Netflix could always reach some appallingly expensive deal, much like the $80 million they shelled out to keep Friends. (Incidentally, Netflix is raising its rates, again.) The Office — which is to say the American remake of the British original, which also lives on Netflix — remains absurdly popular, with fans freaking out any time alumni hang out, hoping for a reunion that otherwise occupied star Steve Carell is understandably not feeling.
But much like life itself, enjoy it while it lasts. Even if The Office remains on Netflix while humanity still stands, we’ll all still soon be living in a grim future in which every company has their own streaming service and no one is happy.