NBCU Plans Comedy OTT Video Service

NBCUniversal confirms it is planning to launch a comedy based video subscription on demand service later this year.

The service is designed to appeal to viewers under 35 who are increasingly opting out of traditional pay-TV. Comedy is seen as a genre that appeals to those younger viewers.

Evan Shapiro, who joined NBCU in December as executive VP of digital enterprises is spearheading the project. Before NBCU, Shapiro helped launch Pivot, a cable TV and online service aimed at viewers in the millennial generation.

NBCU’s move comes as programmers eye the subscription video on demand space as a place to monetize their content at a time when streaming and mobile consumption is growing but not being adequately measured by Nielsen.

Last year CBS launched CBS All Access, offering fans a chance to stream the network and shows from its library for $5.99 a month. Time Warner’s HBO and CBS’ Showtime have announced plans for its own OTT product and companies including Disney, Discovery and Turner Broadcasting have all signaled interest in creating subscription products.

Last week Viacom’s Nickelodeon unveiled Noggin, a streaming service aimed at pre-schoolers that sells for $5.99 a month.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported NBCU’s plans, said that the NBCU service might include episodes of NBC’s The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, and that it might cost $2.50 to $3.50 per month.

NBCU sources said it was premature to discuss specifics about the OTT product.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.