Speaking to investors on Dec. 7, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell noted that, with The Office set to shift its exclusive streaming rights to his company’s Peacock service in less than a month, the big incumbent platform was doing everything it could to make the show “pretty hard to find” for its users.
Let’s just say Netflix didn’t do a very good job of hiding.
During the week starting Dec. 7 and ending Dec. 13, The Office was the most watched show in the U.S. SVOD market, according to Nielsen, with its 192 posted episodes garnering more than 1,279 billion minutes of total viewing.
Netflix, which has nearly twice as many U.S. users than the other subscription streaming platforms, has dominated Nielsen's weekly SVOD ranker since its launch back in September. And The Office was listed by at least one other third-party source as the SVOD giant’s most popular show of 2020.
According to The Wall Street Journal, The Office generated more than 52 billion minutes of viewing in 2018, some 3% of all Netflix minutes watched in the U.S.
But the fact that all the way up to its last month on Netflix, The Office still ranked so high is … well, kind of surprising.
Back in 2019, NBCU paid $500 million to gain back the streaming rights to the single-camera sitcom from Netflix. Beginning Jan 1., Comcast/NBCU’s new streaming service, Peacock, took over as the exclusive streaming outlet for the comedy. NBCU execs noted during a December investor call that Netflix was intentionally burying the series after losing the show to Peacock, which was true. The Office didn't surface on the Netflix UI. Subscribers were forced to search for the show in order to watch it. But despite efforts to deter Netflix viewers, the Dunder Mifflin gang prevailed.
So much so that it was the most watched show in the second week of December 2020.
Currently, Nielsen ranks show consumption on the four biggest SVOD platforms in the U.S.: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. NBCU said last month that Peacock has around 26 million active users, many of them using the base free service, which only offers access to seasons 1 and 2 of The Office.
So it’s hard to tell when and if Nielsen will start ranking Peacock, or if The Office will ever surface on its top 10 ranker when it ever does.
While the loss of The Office stings, Netflix’s domination on the top-10 list continues, as it did this week. One show from other three major SVODs usually surfaces on Nielsen’s list, but it’s rare that one such show will infiltrate the top 5, given Netflix’s U.S. subscriber strength of over 73 million homes.
Notably, however, Disney Plus’ penultimate season 2 episode of The Mandalorian (which debuted Dec. 11) pushed the show to No. 2, the first time a non-Netflix show has ranked that high on Nielsen's young list.
The Star Wars spinoff series first appeared on the list during the week of 10/26-11/1 when it took the No. 3 spot.
Netflix’s Virgin River moved from first to third place week to week with viewers giving it 948 billion minutes of time.
Since Nielsen ranks streaming content by total minutes of viewing time for all episodes, the measurement tactic gives series with large libraries an advantage. Yet, Amazon's The Boys broke onto the list the week of Aug. 31 and Amazon’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm made it on the week of Oct. 19.
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