With viewers sitting at home streaming content in unprecedented numbers, Comcast is set to launch its entry, Peacock on Wednesday.
“Now more than ever there is a need for a free quality streaming service that can provide viewers with both the information they need to stay informed and entertainment they seek to escape the moment,” said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises. “With Peacock, we will deliver many of the best movies and TV shows of our time—as well as timely news and topical programming—and do our part to bring people together through the power of entertainment.”
Peacock is free to Comcast subscribers. When it launches more broadly on July 15, there will be a free version, a premium version that costs $4.99 a month and an add-free version for $9.99 a month.
Strauss noted that despite the Peacock team having to work at home, its launch is on time. In fact, the company is considering moving up its July 15 launch date. “For now July is still the target date,” he said.
The Coronavirus has meant that Peacock won’t get a push from the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which have been postponed to 2021. But Strauss said that Peacock will be getting two Olympic games in short order, just as the service is hitting its strike. Peacock will also be getting an NFL playoff game this season.
Strauss added that the COVID-19 situation would not affect Peacock's financial projections.
Peacock will be an anchor tenant on Comcast’s Flex platform and Xfinity will be promoting Peacock with a marketing campaign with one-air spots featuring actress and Comcast spokesperson Amy Poehler,
Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex users will be able to say “Peacock” into their voice remote and enter the streaming service.
“Offering Peacock Premium at no additional cost, seamlessly integrated on Xfinity X1 and Flex is another example of our commitment to provide more value, content and choice to customers,” said Dana Strong, president of Xfinity Consumer Services at Comcast. “With entertainment hours on our platforms up 24% versus last year, we know that our customers will enjoy discovering Peacock and all its great content during this exclusive preview period.”
Peacock will feature less than five minutes per hour of advertising. Those ads will feature advanced-advertising targeting and use innovative formats. A new group of launch sponsors was announced Monday.
In terms of programming, Peacock will feature early access to NBC’s late night shows, where Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are producing at home editions of their shows.
Peacock Premium features more than 15,000 hours of current TV shows and classic favorites like Law & Order: SVU, 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights, popular movies like Jurassic Park, E.T. and Ray, and kids programming like Curious George and original animated series Where’s Waldo? and Cleopatra in Space from DreamWorks Animation.
Peacock will also have a number of streaming channels including clip-based channels like the best Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers comedy sketches, the best sketches from the SNL Vault, plus news channels from NBC News Now and Sky News, and genre channels like True Crime, Reality Check-In and 80s Mix Tape.
NBCU has also slated originals for Peacock, but because of the impact of COVID-19, production has been paused, pushing most of them back intso 2021.
Strauss noted that during these uncertain times viewers are gravitating toward programming that’s comfortable, familiar and even nostalgic. Those viewers might be more willing next year to see original shows.
Originals titles for Peacock include Brave New World, The Capture, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, Angelyne, Intelligence, Rutherford Falls, Lost Speedways, Punky Brewster, A.P. Bio, Dr. Death, Real Housewives Mash-up, Saved By the Bell, Lady Parts, Girls5Eva, Who Wrote That, Kids Tonight Show, The Amber Ruffin Show and Caso Cerrado.
Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCU and Matt Strauss sent a memo to the company, talking about the launch of Peacock. Here's the memo below:
With the launch of Peacock, tomorrow marks an exciting milestone in our company’s history. We wanted to take this moment to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication to this important initiative.
When we targeted April 15th as the launch date, we knew we had our work cut out for us, but never imagined we would be faced with the challenges that this global pandemic has created. Yet nothing has stopped us, even with the entire Peacock team, and much of the company at large, working from home in all parts of the world. There is no better example of Symphony across NBCUniversal, Comcast Cable and Sky than the teamwork and collaboration that has gone into the creation of this new business.
When you look at the product we are launching today, it is hard to believe Peacock was conceived just a little over a year ago. Fortunately, we hit the ground running by drawing on some of the resources of Sky – tapping into their streaming expertise as well as the technology of Now TV.
Thanks to our partnership with Comcast Cable, Peacock will be available as an early preview in millions of Comcast homes across the country on the Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms. And starting in May, we are kicking off an extensive marketing campaign to promote Peacock with prominent exposure across the Xfinity channel guide, website and Xfinity retail stores.
We also want to acknowledge every NBCUniversal division for helping us get to where we are today. Peacock’s breadth of content -- from TV entertainment to film to Hispanic programming to news to sports -- as well as an impressive group of launch sponsors, is reflective of the unprecedented collaboration that went into this. Additionally, many of the Peacock team members were recruited from various NBCU businesses that fully supported their staff joining this new venture.
With much of the country hunkered down at home right now, demand for entertainment and news is at an all-time high. Our unique strategy to offer a free service with limited commercials that leans heavily into library titles and topical content, feels like just what every American wants right now.
We have said from the beginning that this is a marathon not a sprint. While we are launching with a strong array of news and entertainment offerings, much more content will be on the platform down the road, including our original productions and many more sporting events (which are delayed in the wake of COVID-19). The product itself is in its beginning phase and will undergo continuous updates and enhancements.
We are viewing 2020 as our runway to 2021, which is the year Peacock takes center stage. With The Office debuting along with our originals slate in early 2021, followed by the Olympics next summer – Peacock will be unstoppable.
We can’t wait for each of you to check out Peacock. For some of you who are not in Comcast markets, we are giving you the opportunity to sign up for an early bird trial of Peacock, available exclusively to NBCU employees. Click here for details.
We are also pleased to announce that we will be giving eligible employees the premium version of Peacock as a special gift when the service launches nationally, on July 15th.
A sincere thanks to the entire Peacock team for creating a product that makes the entire company proud. There is truly nothing we can’t accomplish together.
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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.