Comcast to power NBCU’s streamer with acquisitions

NBCUniversal’s CEO Steve Burke has revealed further details around its forthcoming streamer, which will launch in April 2020 and be predominantly powered by acquired programming.

Last month, NBCU said the yet-to-launch service would become home to the US version of The Office (pictured) in America, after it grappled rights back from Netflix following an auction by producers Universal Television, which like NBCU, is owned by Comcast.

Speaking on Comcast’s Q2 earnings call yesterday, Burke said that 500 people are currently working on the OTT offering, which is scheduled to launch in nine months. He confirmed that the service would be built on the Now TV platform, which is currently deployed by Sky in Europe.

The CEO also confirmed that the service will be built around acquired programming, contrasting with the likes of Disney+ and Apple+ which are focusing heavily on originals.

The Office was important to us because, according to Nielsen, it is the number one show on Netflix,” Burke added. “It’s about 5% of all of Netflix’s volume. It’s obviously a show that was on NBC and is tied to the DNA of NBC and we see it as being one of the tentpole programmes on our platform.”

Burke added that money was being spent on originals, but added that he expected “the vast majority of consumption in the beginning” would be acquired shows.

The NBCU chief also argued that its forthcoming streamer would hold a unique proposition in the increasingly crowded OTT marketplace, which will see launches from Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia in the coming months. The service will be free for existing customers but also available for a monthly fee, estimated at around $12.

“We believe we have a very innovative way of coming into the market that is very different than anything else in the market and, we believe, has very attractive financial aspects versus other ways to get into streaming.”

Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts added: “We’re making great progress on the direct-to-consumer streaming service. We believe the strength of our assets and leadership across our businesses, combined with access to tens of millions of customers, will lower both our cost of entry and execution risk as we deliver a truly special offering.”

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