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At Odds With Amazon, Peacock Urges ‘Sideloading’

Peacock
Peacock’s Twitter account has advised users to “sideload” the Google TV app onto Fire TV devices. (Image credit: Peacock)

Nearly a year after NBCUniversal’s Peacock was first introduced on Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex devices and nine months after it rolled out nationwide, the Peacock app still isn’t supported by Amazon Fire TV Stick and other Amazon Fire TV gadgets. 

As the impasse with Amazon, the No. 2 provider of OTT devices behind Roku, drags on, Peacock reps have started to advise customers to “sideload” the Peacock app onto Amazon Fire TV, a term for installing an unauthorized third-party app onto the device. That task is actually not so technically complicated, given Fire TV’s underpinning in Google’s Android TV operating system.

This communication has been accentuated with the debut of WWE-
related programming on Peacock
in March.

“Thanks for reaching out! We understand your frustration,” NBCU is telling customers through its @peacocktv Twitter handle. “While Peacock currently isn’t supported on Amazon devices, there are sideloading options that customers have found helpful.”

Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts hinted at an investor event earlier in March that his company’s NBCU division might be getting close to hammering out an agreement with Amazon for support of Peacock on Fire TV. 

Comcast, NBCU and Amazon have not elaborated on their negotiating hangups. But they reportedly center on NBCU’s desire not to have Peacock disaggregated within Amazon Prime Video Channels. NBCU wants to distribute Peacock as a standalone app, controlling the customer relationship and all the related data itself. 

Advising customers on unofficial workarounds might not necessarily convey desperation on behalf of Peacock and NBCU, but it could hint at concern and frustration. 

With reports circulating in February that the streaming service only has around 11.3 million regular users, and NBCU constrained on what it can spend on splashy content relative to competitors with deeper pockets, Peacock appears anxious to goose its usage metrics. 

Certainly, making Peacock available to Fire TV living rooms would help. Just look at HBO Max, which has grown from 8.6 million customers to more than 17.2 million since gaining access to both Amazon Fire TV and Roku late last year. 

Roku is the fastest-growing device ecosystem thanks to its relationships with TCL and Hisense, which both use the Roku OS to power most of the smart TVs they sell worldwide. But Amazon actually sells more Fire TV devices these days, starting with the low-priced Fire TV Stick HDMI gadget. In fact, Amazon shipped 13.2 million Fire TV devices worldwide in the fourth quarter, controlling more than 12% of the OTT device market, according to Strategy Analytics.