TBI Tech & Analysis: Peacock takes flight as subs flock in


NBCUniversal’s streamer Peacock might have had its feathers ruffled by the global pandemic affecting its originals line-up, but its vast library seems to have worked wonders on new customers.

According to new research from Kantar, Peacock captured more than 17% of all new VOD subscriptions in the US in the three months to the end of September, following the streamer’s full unveiling in July.

The research found that 10% of the new subscriptions came from customers who had recently cancelled another SVOD service, with Amazon Prime Video dropping a place to second spot. Around 16% of new SVOD customers plumped for the retail giant’s service, down from 23% the previous quarter.

This is contrasted to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which launched several weeks before Peacock in late-May and captured 11.3% of new US SVOD subs in the Q3 period.

Structure snags subscriber interest

The reasons for Peacock’s flight to the top of the streamer subscriber charts were multifaceted, but  researchers noted that the Peacock’s multi-tiered structure was largely welcomed.

The streamer offers free and paid-for offerings – along with the inclusion of the Premium service for certain Comcast Xfinity customers plans, and it appears that the strategy has paid off, despite initial fears that the structure may come across as convoluted.

The primary driver for Peacock subscriptions, ahead of anything content-related, was value for money – cited by 25% of new sign-ups, according to Kantar, whose Entertainment On Demand report is based on a panel of 20,000 consumers and 2,500 new subscriber interviews each quarter.

Content calling

Brave New World

Programming was key too, however, with the secondary driver for subs being a “variety of TV series” and “specific content,” the latter cited by 25% of new subscribers as their primary reason to join up.

Top shows cited by respondents were Psych and Yellowstone – the hit Paramount Network drama – which are among the roughly 20,000 hours of content becoming available.

Those shows will join originals such as Brave New World and masses of library content including This Is Us and The Blacklist, much of which is being fed from networks and studios including NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen and E!.

Programming will also feature from other US broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, The CW and Fox, as well as shows from History, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, ViacomCBS, Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and Blumhouse.

The research also found that users were positive about their experience of Peacock, with a ‘Net Promoter Score’ of +9. Concerning for NBCU however is that this drops down to just +1 for users of Peacock’s free tier. By contrast, Netflix has an NPS of +51.

Hulu holding firm


But while Peacock and HBO Max may have grabbed headlines, Kantar said that Hulu has shown resilience, with growth of around 10% for three consecutive quarters. Hulu has also continued to benefit from the bundle offer of it, with Disney+ and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.

Similar to Kantar’s findings in the UK, Amazon Prime has continued to be a strong performer Stateside with 16% of sign-ups in the quarter, though this is down from 23% in Q2. Amazon’s all-encompassing Prime subscription, which also includes free expedited shipping from its ecommerce platform and a number of other perks, is now paid-for by 54.5% of all US households. Kantar notes that this continued growth is in part due to the addition of multiple user profiles which has left its ease of use net satisfaction almost on a par with Netflix.

Again similar to the UK is the underwhelming performance of Apple TV+. The streamer’s share of new subs fell to 4.9% in Q3 vs 5.9% in Q2 and 7.4% in Q1. The same complaint of a lack of content also holds water across the Atlantic, with 26% of users planning to cancel at the end of their free trial – though they may be swayed should compelling content launch in the extra three months they’ve been added.

Meanwhile, Kantar said that Netflix was king on the content front, with many of its shows enjoyed most according to the researchers. Ozark, Lucifer and The Umbrella Academy were among the the top five titles during the quarter, helping to reduce Netflix’s ‘churn’ to just 4% quarter-on-quarter.

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