‘The Office’ will leave Netflix in 2021 for NBCUniversal’s streaming service

“The Office” is relocating. Sorry, Netflix.

Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA, -1.95%   NBCUniversal announced Tuesday that the popular sitcom, which ran on NBC from 2005 until 2013, will leave Netflix Inc. NFLX, -2.89%   in 2021, and stream exclusively on NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service for five years.

“‘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,” Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to welcome the gang from Dunder Mifflin to NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.”

The move could be a big blow to Netflix. Reruns of “The Office” were reportedly Netflix’s most-watched show in 2018. More bad news may come: Netflix’s second-most popular show in 2018 was reportedly “Friends,” which could eventually head to AT&T’s T, -0.09%   WarnerMedia. Last year, Netflix reportedly paid about $100 million for the rights to continue streaming “Friends” for at least another year.

In a tweet Tuesday, Netflix said it’s “sad” to lose the show.

NBCUniversal’s streaming service is expected to launch during the first quarter of 2020, and will reportedly be free to cable subscribers and available for about $12 a month for non-cable customers.

It will face a crowd of rivals. WarnerMedia’s streaming service is expected to launch in beta in the fall, and roll out fully in early 2020. Walt Disney Co.’s DIS, +0.52%   Disney Plus will launch in November for $6.99 a month, and Apple Inc.’s AAPL, -1.52%   Apple TV+ is also expected to launch this fall. That’s in addition to Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN, -1.86%   Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and a smattering of smaller streaming services.

Comcast shares were down slightly in after-hours trading, after falling 2% during the regular trading day, and are up about 26% year to date. Netflix shares were about flat after hours, after falling 3% during regular trading. Netflix stock has risen 35% this year. By comparison, the S&P 500 SPX, -0.95%   is up 16% year to date.

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