Office Ladies is the Future of Franchise Podcasting

Leon Wu
4 min readOct 26, 2019


The success of a show about a beloved TV series hints at a lucrative new direction for the podcast industry.

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

Last Wednesday the first episode of Office Ladies was unleashed onto the internet. The hour-long podcast features The Office stars, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, reliving the making of their hugely beloved show. Every week they promise to offer listeners unique insights into a different episode, hoping to appeal to Office fans who can’t get enough of Scranton’s favorite paper company. And the numbers are in — Office Ladies is a booming success, currently ranked number one on the Apple Podcasts chart.

Behind the podcast’s discussion of The Office anecdotes and ‘fast facts,’ (a segment where Fischer offers bite-sized bits of show trivia) comes an even juicier tidbit. Popular franchises like The Office are a match made in heaven for the audio format. Large fanbases are re-invigorated by the promise of new and original content — helmed by their favorite actors — and delivered at a rate not possible with traditional films and tv shows.

Podcasts are on the rise. According to a recent Edison Report that looked at Americans’ media habits, one third of people over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast in the last month. This figure increases to 91% between the ages of 12–24. With our generations’ love for smartphone devices and entertainment-on-the-go, podcasts are no longer just for the most hardcore geeks — they’ve become mainstream.

While all kinds of podcasts are produced and listened to daily, the most popular are those which tap into an already established franchise. This usually guarantees an initial and sizeable following which makes producing them attractive for studios, as podcasts are supported by ads. Earwolf, the comedy podcast network that produces Office Ladies, is also behind a portfolio of other popular franchise-backed shows, including Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, The Cracked Podcast, and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.

So far most fandom-based podcasts have been created by the fans themselves. Show like MuggleCast (Harry Potter) and Talking Simpsons (The Simpsons) have been popular for years. But expect all this to change.

One of the appeals of podcasts is that they are raw — mistakes and stutters are an integral part of the format. But it also means that they are cheap to produce. Podcasts can be recorded in real time with minimal editing and don’t require much cast and crew. This removes the financial and logistical burden that causes so many production companies to shut down traditional tv shows. The Office took eight years to make. But if Fischer and Kinsey can fulfil their promise of an episode per week, Office Ladies will be done in less than half that time (at a fraction of the cost).

Fandoms are able to sustain themselves long after a series has finished. According to a Nielsen Report compiled for the Wall Street Journal, of the top 10 shows watched on Netflix in 2018, eight were reruns of classic shows (including Parks and Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, and Friends). Audiences who have invested their time and emotions want to rewatch their favorite characters. And communities that revolve around defunct franchises form all the time. Every year hundreds of thousands of people convene at comic-cons around the world to celebrate their franchise’s culture.

So when a franchise continues to have a large following, it presents the perfect opportunity for an affordably produced podcast to adopt the fanbase. All studios have to do is hire a couple of our favorite stars to hook us in.

Still, the ingredients of the show have to come together to be a success. To engage with an active fandom the podcast needs to get the tone right. Thankfully Fischer and Kinsey deliver. The two bright personalities are funny, charming, and just a tad awkward — as The Office so often was in its heyday. The banter between the two is as effortless and as entertaining as we’ve come to expect of anything to do with the show.

In the podcast’s first episode Kinsey tells a hilarious anecdote that hints at what the podcast aims to deliver. She recalls when Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight on the show) introduced his wife to her, “this is my wife Holly, bearer of my seed.” The joke lands. Fischer laughs. Audiences hit subscribe. It’s a good sign for all involved.

Expect to see more retired shows and franchises resurrected from TV wasteland by podcasts. It makes sense for studios looking to generate more profits on their greatest hits, and for audiences who can’t let those hits go. With the excitement generated by Jennifer Anniston’s first Instagram post hopefully that means a new weekly fix of Friends is in on the horizon (the show was on a break!).



Leon Wu

Neurotic millennial writer. Culture/Entertainment/Tech.