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Shifting ‘The Office’ to Peacock: A Second Look at the Data

Yinchen Niu/VIP

It’s been over two months since all seasons of the hit TV comedy series “The Office” moved from Netflix to Peacock, and there have been signs so far that the show’s move has been a positive for NBCUniversal’s streamer.

Speaking of “The Office” in late January, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell said, “Our usage among our customers is actually higher than we think the usage was among Netflix customers,” during Comcast’s Q4 earnings call.

But viewership numbers or Peacock sign-ups attributable to the series were not disclosed at that time.

To better understand how “The Office” is currently performing, Variety Intelligence Platform examined data from multiple providers that offer subscription, mobile and TV analytics.

1. Peacock Sign-Ups

Subscription analytics firm Antenna reported in late February that “The Office” helped drive a healthy uptick in sign-ups for Peacock’s premium tier in early January. The firm noted the percentage of Peacock Premium subs it observed in the first half of January 2021 was 9 percentage points higher than the comparable figure in December.

Additionally, Peacock earned more paid tier sign-ups in early January than it did around other significant time periods for the service, such as its nationwide launch and the start of the Premier League, according to Antenna.

An observed spike in Peacock Premium sign-ups should be expected, as only seasons 1 and 2 of “The Office” are on the free Peacock tier.

It’s possible other perks of Peacock Premium, such as full access to Peacock originals, played a part in luring customers to the tier in January. But keep in mind the Peacock originals slate of January was pretty light, and Peacock hasn’t yet seemed to make its original content mark in the same way other recently launched streamers have.

2. Peacock Mobile Downloads

Data provided to Variety Intelligence Platform from app analytics firm Apptopia seems to mesh with the Antenna data above. Apptopia’s findings show that from September 2020 to February, monthly downloads of the Peacock app were the highest, at nearly 2.1 million, in January, when the service started housing “Office.”

Moreover, from October to February, the month-over-month growth in downloads of Peacock peaked in January at 30%.

However, the January peak also means monthly downloads of Peacock dipped in the subsequent month. That’s not disastrous, but it’s one early indication that Peacock may not be able to rely on “The Office” as a significant and sustained subscriber acquisition tool — if the current paywalling of “Office” remains as is.

Moving more seasons of “The Office” to Peacock’s free tier would likely spur an uptick in downloads of the Peacock app, for example.

3. Viewership of “The Office”

Data provided exclusively to VIP from connected TV analytics firm TVision provides more color on the impact of moving a megahit sitcom across SVOD platforms.

During the last two months of 2020, “Office” (the entirety of the series) ranked as the 165th most popular TV series, by measure of viewership, across all platforms TVision measured (which includes major SVOD platforms Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV+, Peacock, Disney+ and HBO Max).

During the first two months of 2021, “The Office” ranked as the 690th most popular TV series across all platforms.

Looking at the popularity of “The Office” season-by-season pre- and post-Netflix offers a similar story.

The ranking of all seasons of the show dropped precipitously after December. S1 and S2 were the series’ two most watched seasons during January and February, though that’s to be expected given they are the only free seasons of the show on Peacock.

This data seems to conflict with how NBCU spoke of “The Office” during its earnings call, as well as data from Parrot Analytics that shows demand for the series jumped after being moved to Peacock from Netflix.

However, remember that Parrot’s demand metric considers things beyond streams and downloads of a show, like Google searches, Wikipedia traffic and Facebook likes surrounding a particular title.

TVision’s show rankings are based on the number of times a program has been viewed across connected TVs/connected TV devices.

The discrepancy would suggest there could have been instances where viewers heard of “The Office” leaving Netflix, searched for where to stream it and then ultimately didn’t view much of the show after learning most of it was paywalled on Peacock.

Keep in mind that OTT catalog data provider Reelgood also found streams of “Office” returned back to normal levels after initially jumping during the first week of January.

The Bottom Line

It’s been less than three full months since “The Office” moved away from Netflix, and it seems straightforward that the sitcom made a noticeable impact on Peacock sign-ups. What’s less clear is how overall viewership numbers of “Office” were impacted as part of the move, as different data providers (and NBCU) give the impression that the numbers moved in different directions post-December 31.

However, it does seem reasonable to assume views of “The Office” took some level of a hit after moving from Netflix to Peacock. In late January, 50% of surveyed U.S. adults said they had used Netflix in the past month, while those figures were 8% and 3% for Peacock’s free tier and Peacock Premium, respectively, per YouGov.

While that may not necessarily put a stop to megadeals for licensed hits, it could have an impact on showrunners who want to ensure their programs always remain viewable by the largest possible audience.

In the case of “The Office,” which had its first episode air nearly 15 years ago and does still have a portion of its episodes viewable on other platforms, like Philo and FuboTV, that may not be as big of an issue.