‘The Office’ Among Biggest TV Franchise-SVOD Subscription Drivers, Data Suggests

Yinchen Niu/VIP

Most major subscription video streaming services lay claim to a classic licensed TV series, but not all of these series have had the same impact on generating sign-ups. 

That’s according to a new survey conducted exclusively for Variety Intelligence Platform by Maru/Matchbox, which found that more respondents (10%) said they had signed up for a video streaming service to watch “The Office” than any other licensed TV show that was asked about. 

These findings don’t suggest “The Office” has far and away outperformed all other licensed shows as a sign-up generator. It barely outperformed “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Simpsons” in the question above, for example. But it does provide the latest confirmation that “The Office” is one of the hottest TV franchises for a streamer to own in a market that continues to see competitors turn up the heat on their exclusive content offerings.  

“The Office” was the most streamed licensed series Nielsen measured in 2020 and was among the top licensed series consumers indicated they wanted a streaming service to provide access to in a previous separate survey we ran with Trailer Park Group. 

It’s no wonder NBCU committed $500 million for the exclusive rights to “The Office, which until this year had been streaming on Netflix. 

But it’s not always so simple judging the impact one TV franchise has had on sign-ups relative to another. “The Big Bang Theory” had never had its full library available on streaming prior to becoming available on HBO Max, so you might expect it to be a reportedly bigger SVOD subscription driver than a show like “South Park,” which was on Hulu for years and also has some free full episodes accessible on South Park Studios. 

Still, it’s likely not all consumers do the research on free ways to access certain shows on the web, and it’s possible some consumers have signed up for a video streaming service via word-of-mouth recommendation that it offered their favorite licensed show, like HBO Max’s “Friends.” 

However, streamers shouldn’t go all-in on locking up the biggest licensed shows in the long term, Maru/Matchbox data suggests. When respondents were asked what type of content they watch most often on SVODs, 25% said original TV shows, a figure higher than that for licensed TV shows, licensed movies and original movies.  

This backs up the logic of a streamer like Netflix, which is continually becoming less reliant on licensed content. But keep in mind these percentages would probably look different if asked for each SVOD individually 

For example, if consumers were asked what type of content they most often watch only on Hulu, licensed content might appear as the most popular (which is what Hub Research found in a similar question years back).

Even so, it’s likely that as consumers continually ditch pay TV in the coming years, there will come to be a bigger expectation of original content on SVODs. New streamer Discovery+ has already seemingly prepared for this expectation, as it launched with an unusually large library of originals.