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NBCU brings The Office back home

NBCUniversal (NBCU) has confirmed it will rein in rights to The Office and put it on its own upcoming streamer, withdrawing the popular US version of the UK comedy from Netflix.

The move, which the Comcast-owned company has previously hinted at, was confirmed by NBCU chairman of direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises Bonnie Hammer.

“The Office has become a staple of pop culture and is a rare gem whose relevance continues to grow at a time when fans have more entertainment choices than ever before,” said the exec, who took up her present role earlier this year.

“We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCU’s new streaming service,” she added, referring to the fictional paper sales plant that provides the setting for the Steve Carell-led take on Ricky Gervais’s original BBC comedy.

The series is believed to be one of Netflix’s most popular series but will leave the service when its present licensing deal with NBCU expires at the end of 2020 and the latter gears up for the launch of its own ad-supported streamer.

NBCU chairman of advertising sales and client relationships Linda Yaccarino said at the firm’s Upfront in May that some of the company’s biggest titles would be “coming home.”

“Next year we’re going to unveil the largest initiative in our company’s history: we’re going to have our own ad-supported platform,” she said. “It will have a slate of originals and a gigantic library of all favourites. The shows that people love the most and stream the most are coming home at a price that every person can afford: free.”

Meanwhile, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, speaking at a conference around the same time, further underscored the industry’s direction of travel, stating plans to take back licences to an array of programming from its new WarnerMedia division, housing HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.

“The Warner Bros library is an amazing library,” he said. “Think about everything from Friends and Seinfeld to The Big Bang Theory. All of this TV production is owned by Warner Bros and we will be bringing a lot of these media rights back to ourselves to put on our own SVoD video product.”


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