M&E Connections

Comcast’s Peacock Streaming Service to Be Offered in Free and Pay Subscription Tiers

Comcast will launch its new Peacock streaming service April 15 for current Comcast subscribers and July 15 for other consumers in multiple free, ad-supported and pay subscription tier options, the company disclosed Jan. 16 at an investor meeting in New York that was webcast.

“We have been quietly working on Peacock for the last 18 months,” according to Steve Burke, chairman of NBCUniversal and senior executive vice president of Comcast. “We haven’t talked much about it for competitive reasons and because we think we’ve identified a very unique approach” that takes advantage of the company’s strengths, he said.

Peacock Free is an ad-supported option that Comcast said will feature more than 7,500 hours of programming, including next-day access to current seasons of freshman broadcast series, complete classic series, popular movies, curated daily news and sports programming including the Olympics, Spanish-language content, select episodes of “marquee” Peacock originals and tent-pole series, as well as curated Peacock streaming genre channels including “SNL Vault,” “Family Movie Night” and “Olympic Profiles.”

Peacock Premium will offer more than 15,000 hours of content and an ad-supported version of it will come bundled at no additional cost to 24 million Comcast and Cox TV service subscribers, Comcast said. It will also be made available for $4.99 a month on “all popular connected mobile and web devices for non-bundled customers,” it disclosed. Comcast expects to bundle Peacock Premium with additional partners in the coming months, it said.

Premium customers will also be able to upgrade to an ad-free version for an additional $5 a month, while any customer will also be able to just buy the ad-free experience directly for $9.99 a month also, Comcast said.

The pricing options that start with free were selected to, in part, address one of the “multiple points of friction” that TV viewers face today “when it comes to streaming,” according to Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. That friction “typically revolves around three major pain points: content fragmentation, endless scrolling and subscription fatigue,” the latter also known as affordability, he told attendees. The company intended to “address all three” with Peacock, he said.

To help reduce fragmentation, it designed Peacock to be a “platform to aggregate and partner with third-party studios, networks and catalogs” to expand the number of choices that viewers have, he said. Its ease of use and personalization, meanwhile, will reduce the amount of scrolling that viewers have to do while trying to find content they want to watch, he said.

All versions of Peacock Premium will include full season Peacock originals and tent-pole series, next-day access to current seasons of returning broadcast series, early access to late night talk shows and additional sports not offered with Peacock Free, including Premier League soccer, Comcast said.

Customers of the company’s current Xfinity X1 TV and entertainment service and Flex streaming service will get “early bird access” to Peacock Premium starting April 15, it said.

Then, starting July 15, the company plans to take “full advantage of the massive promotional opportunity” of the Tokyo Olympics that it has broadcast rights for to offer Peacock Free and Peacock Premium nationally in the U.S. on popular web, mobile and connected-TV devices, it said.

Comcast expects to reach 30-35 million active accounts by 2024, it said.

Peacock will launch with a select group of brand sponsors — including Eli Lilly and Company, State Farm, Target and Unilever — that Comcast said stands to bring in “hundreds of millions” of dollars in initial advertising revenue. “Each launch sponsor will have the exclusive opportunity to define Peacock’s new advertising experience to give consumers the best content at the best price: free,” Comcast said in its announcement.

Comcast announced a broad slate of new, high-profile TV and film acquisitions that Peacock will take advantage of.

On  the TV front, Peacock will stream various NBC news programs and Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment shows that have aired on the Comcast-owned NBC network, including “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med.” Peacock will also have rights to more of the most popular NBC TV shows of all time, including “30 Rock,” “Cheers,” Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Will & Grace.”

But Peacock will also stream the Paramount Network series “Yellowstone” from NBC rival ViacomCBS, as well as “Two and a Half Men” from Warner Brothers that originally aired on CBS. Also featured on the streaming service will be shows that aired originally on Fox, including “House” and “Married…With Children,” Comcast said.

Peacock will also offer original TV content. For instance, the company signed a multi-year partnership with Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud (LOL) network that Comcast said includes an equity investment in that company, a first look deal with LOL and the distribution of LOL’s catalog on the service. As part of the deal, Laugh Out Loud will produce a Kevin Hart stand-up comedy special, an original interview series called “Hart to Heart” and a series of short-form content exclusively for Peacock, Comcast said.

Other Peacock original shows will include “Girls5Eva,” produced by Tina Fey, who spoke during the presentation and pointed to all the classic NBC comedies and other content that will be offered by the service. “I know I personally cannot wait to binge-watch all 17,624 episodes of the “Today Show,” she joked.

Also, for the first time, viewers will get exclusive early access to NBC’s late night shows. Starting in July on Peacock Premium, NBC’s late night talk shows will be streaming starting at 8 p.m. ET with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” followed by “Late Night with Seth Meyers” at 9 p.m. ET.

In sports, Peacock will feature the Tokyo Olympics, including live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies before they air on NBC in primetime, along with three daily Olympic shows including, “Tokyo Live,” with live coverage of one of the day’s most exciting events; “Tokyo Daily Digest,” with mid-day highlights of the Games; and “Tokyo Tonight,” a complement to the primetime show that will help audiences catch up on the day’s events, Comcast said. Starting in August, 2,000 hours of Premier League soccer coverage will be offered on Peacock, including more than 140 matches that aren’t available on TV otherwise, the company said. The Ryder Cup golf tournament will follow on the service in September, it noted.

In film, Peacock will have the exclusive streaming rights for the 2020 Universal film slate and beyond in the network TV window. Films will include “Fast & Furious 9” and “Jurassic World 3” from Comcast-owned Universal. They are in addition to the many previously announced original films and animated series in development for Peacock from Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, and hundreds of Universal films including “American Pie,” “Bridesmaids,” “Knocked Up,” “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Back to the Future,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Casino,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Do the Right Thing,” “Erin Brockovich,” “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” “Field of Dreams,” “Jaws,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Shrek,” “The Breakfast Club,” and franchises including “Bourne” and “Despicable Me,” Comcast noted.