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How Hard is Peacock Leaning on ‘The Office’?

Ben Bowman

Peacock was originally supposed to launch alongside the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As the coronavirus pandemic raged on, the Olympics were bumped by a year and Peacock hatched without many feathers. In January 2021, Peacock obtained the rights to “The Office,” which provided a huge boost in awareness and subscriptions.

Today, Peacock is finally reunited with the Olympics, and it’s your go-to service for watching gymnastics and men’s basketball. But the service is still leaning heavily on “The Office” more than you might expect.

If we take a look at the Peacock Twitter feed in the 10 days since the start of the Olympics, the numbers are surprising. Excluding retweets of other NBC-related accounts, @Peacock has made 58 tweets specifically (and exclusively) pertaining to the games or Peacock-related coverage. But over that same span, the Peacock account tweeted 17 times with an “Office” reference. There were just 23 references to all other shows, including new series like “Dr. Death” and “The Lost Symbol.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with exploiting your existing intellectual property to garner attention, but it’s a little shocking that a show that ended eight years ago is getting 1/4 the number of tweets as the Olympics that are happening now.

Yes, Peacock is also retweeting several Olympic-related accounts like @NBCOlympics the Peacock show “On Her Turf.” So the social media team is pushing out a fair amount of athletic excellence. But a tweet like this could happen anytime:

And this one is particularly odd, referencing one specific scene in an episode that first aired in 2012:

Perhaps this is just the challenge of getting attention in a social media landscape where we all have fewer cultural touchstones. But Peacock could also reference any number of great “Saturday Night Live” Olympic sketches like the “all-drug Olympics” or “little chocolate donuts” or the synchronized swimming sketch with Harry Shearer and Martin Short.

Peacock also has “Parks and Recreation,” which only got three related tweets over the same 10 days. Peacock also managed one reference to “30 Rock” and one “Frasier” image. Strangely, there are no references to “The Hunger Games” or “Friday Night Lights” or “Moneyball” — all streaming on Peacock, all with easy tie-ins for the Olympics.

It’s fine for Peacock to tweet frequently with its most-beloved property, but the incredible frequency seems like a signal that the social media team has been instructed to hammer “The Office” over and over. Obviously, the recognition factor would fall if the team tweeted a gif from the new comedies “Girls5eva” or “Rutherford Falls,” but the complete absence from the feed may reinforce a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tweet about a beloved show and you’ll get more engagement than tweeting about a new show. Avoid tweeting about your new shows and fewer people know they exist. If fewer people know they exist, fewer people will seek them out when joining Peacock. Since people gravitate toward what they’ve heard of, that means continued higher viewership for “The Office,” which then skews the social media strategy.

There’s nothing wrong with leaning on “The Office” in the short term, but NBCUniversal is likely to see diminishing returns on that strategy over time. Anyone who loves the show has had seven months to sign up for the service. It’s a well-known part of Peacock. But they’re not making many new “Office” fans. And in the streaming arms race, consumers are always looking for the next big thing. Until Peacock manufactures its next big thing, the clock is ticking while the competition heats up.

Peacock

Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that gives access to up to 15,000 hours of content including original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series.

It will include news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Just like other streaming services, Peacock will have their own original series including reboots of Save By The Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica. They also have shows like Rutherford Falls (Ed Helms), Dr. Death (Alec Baldwin), and a behind-the-scenes docs-series about Saturday Night Live.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like the entire Dick Wolf library including Law & Order and Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation, and The Office.

The service will also feature blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.

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