TBI Weekly: Will Peacock strut or stumble?

30 Rock

WarnerMedia, Apple and Disney have all had their turns in the sun recently and yesterday it was NBCUniversal’s opportunity to shine.

The company’s lavish unveiling of its much-awaited streamer  – named Peacock – at Studio 8H in New York yesterday provided further details not just about the types of programming available but also how it is set to differ from other services out there.

On the content front, there is again a clear reliance on existing programming, reflecting similar strategies employed by companies such as WarnerMedia, which grabbed rights back from Netflix for perennial ratings winner Friends for its HBO Max service. Peacock’s offer ranges from Parks And Recreation – another casualty for Netflix, revealed along with the addition of The Big Bang Theory a few months back – to Frasier, Cheers, The Office (from 2021) and numerous others, including, fittingly, 30 Rock.

The Office

Arguably the most notable Peacock deal unveiled yesterday was that which will bring Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment shows to the service – meaning juggernaut brands such as Law And Order, Law And Order: SVU, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD will now call Peacock their US streaming home.

Third-party deals and originals

What’s perhaps more surprising is that, despite NBCU’s huge content library, the Peacock has dipped its toes into the programming archives of others. The NBCU streamer will offer Paramount Network’s hit drama Yellowstone, which has been licensed from ViacomCBS, while other third party deals include the additions of Two And A Half Men and The George Lopez Show from Warner Bros.

The US version of The Office, Chrisley Knows Best, Downton Abbey, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier and Keeping Up With The Kardashians will also be included, catapaulting the total content hour on offer to between 7,500 and 15,000 hours of content. More of that later.

On the originals front, NBCU execs revealed a stand-up comedy special and interview series Hart To Heart from comedian Kevin Hart as well as Tina Fey-produced series Girls5Eva. The show, about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 1990’s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot, will be joined by international shows such as NBCU International Studios’ thriller The Capture, which debuted on the BBC in the UK, and Channel 4’s comedy Lady Parts.

The Capture

NBCU’s Comcast stablemate Sky is also getting in on the Peacock act, with Sky Studios’ trio Intelligence, Code 404 and Hitmen set to be added, providing plenty of scripted firepower to a service that will also house factual shows, such as as a newly announced behind-the-scenes docuseries that follows the US basketball team ahead of the Olympics.

Previously revealed originals include comedies such as Rutherford Falls and the reboot of Saved By The Bell, plus the movie spin-off Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, and dramas including Dr. Death, Battlestar Galactica, Brave New World and Armas De Mujer.

There are also all manner of movies available – 600 in total – ranging from American Pie, Bridesmaids, and Knocked Up to Meet The Parents, Meet The Fockers and Jaws. Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World 3 will also be available, which looks set to knock FX Networks’ Universal deal on the head.

On the kids front, widely seen as being a vital area for streamers, Peacock will have access to the first pay window for NBCU-owned DreamWorks Animation films Trolls World Tour, The Boss Baby 2 and The Croods 2.

It will also be the exclusive streaming home to new episodes of animation Curious George and offer original series from DreamWorks, plus TrollsTopia, Madagascar: A Little Wild, The Mighty Ones, Cleopatra In Space and Where’s Waldo?.


Fast & Furious 9

Content-aside, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Peacock is its pricing model. The company looks set to be hedging its bets as the surge of interest in AVOD surges, with Peacock offering a free, ad-supported option that offers a cut-down 7,500 hours of programming. This includes next-day access to current seasons of newly broadcast series as well as classic shows, details of which have not been revealed.

Then there’s Peacock Premium, bundled to 24 million Comcast and Cox subscribers, giving the streamer a sizeable jump towards its 2024 ambition of 30-35 million active accounts. There will be 15,000 hours of content on offer, including originals and tent-pole series, along with sports content such as the UK’s Premier League. The cost will be $4.99 per month for non-bundled customers.

Last but not least is the premium option, which allows existing customers to upgrade to an ad-free version for an additional $5.00 per month (meaning any customer can purchase the ad-free experience directly for $9.99 per month).

There is little hiding from the fact that NBCU wants to make the most of advertising and subscription – something companies such as Netflix have vehemently erred away from. Steve Burke, chairman of NBCU, admitted he wants to “capitalise” on the company’s strengths “of having one of the most enviable collections of media brands and the strongest ad sales track record in the business.”

For those eagerly awaiting the service, as least in the US, you won’t have to wait much longer. Peacock debuts nationally on 15 July, but subscribers of services belonging to NBCU parent’s telco Comcast and Cox will get a first look from 15 April, providing yet another option to the smorgasbord of streamers available.