LOS GATOS, Calif. — Two of the most popular American sitcoms could be leaving Netflix. The company may not stream Friends or The Office after their contracts with the shows’ owners expire.
According to the Wall Street Journal, NBCUniversal has “begun internal discussions” about removing The Office from the popular streaming site. This comes as the company prepares to launch its own streaming service in 2020.
However, Netflix confirmed on Twitter Wednesday that The Office will remain in their line-up at least until 2021, when their contract with NBCUniversal to air the show expires.
Hello it's me with your regularly scheduled reminder that The Office will be on Netflix until 2021 — at least!
— Netflix US (@netflix) April 24, 2019
In 2018, The Office was Netflix’s most streamed show, according to CNN. Last year Netflix users spent more time streaming the sitcom than any other show last year.
Now, Netflix is arguing that other shows on the streaming service are getting more viewer attention.
“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,” Netflix told FOX 8.
During the Q1 2019 earnings call last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated the company is expecting a decline in viewership of “second window content.”
“We’ve expected this decline in second window content, are 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 said.
Netflix, however, has been expecting this for quite some time.
“7 years ago we thought it was likely (that some suppliers would take shows off Netflix) and thought we ought to get good at creating our own programming. Every year, our percentage of spend and percentage of hours watched have continued to grow towards our owned original and branded on Netflix,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said during that same call.
This comes after NBCUniversal announced the company will launch its own streaming service in 2020, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia will be launching their own streaming service in fall 2019. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Netflix’s rights to Friends is not exclusive, meaning the show can be streamed on multiple platforms. Friends will remain on Netflix through 2019 but its fate after that is still unknown.