NBC Debuts Streamer Peacock with Free, Ad-Supported Tier

NBCUniversal’s streaming platform Peacock debuted today with three tiers: a free, ad-supported plan that features thousands of hours of content; a $4.99-per-month subscription that offers more than double the content of the base plan; and a $9.99 premium version without ads (both paid plans offer discounted annual subscriptions). Users of the free version can surf among 20 feeds, one featuring favorites like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The King of Queens,” another with NBC’s morning program “Today,” and another dedicated to its late-night shows. By offering a free version, said Peacock chair Matt Strauss, NBCUniversal is betting that people are looking for “more affordable options.”

The New York Times reports Strauss noted that the desire for an affordable option “was true before the pandemic.” “And now that we are in the middle of it, arguably heading toward a recession, affordability is even more relevant than when we first laid out our strategy seven months ago,” he said. The goal of the platform is to attract 30-35 million users in the next four years and $2.5 billion in revenue.

Strauss added that a three-month testing period with 15 million Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers, “proved that streaming viewers were just as happy to flip through options before settling on a show, just as they did in the traditional TV era.”

There is a channel dedicated to “Saturday Night Live” and others for news and sports. Peacock will also produce nine original series, one based on Aldous Huxley’s sci-fi classic “Brave New World,” and “Intelligence,” a comedy with “Friends” alumnus David Schwimmer.

NBCUniversal has said it will expand to 40 channels “in the coming months” and reach 70 by the year’s end. In January, Peacock will also become the exclusive streaming home of “The Office.”

“There has been a false narrative that, because ratings have been declining, people don’t watch linear TV anymore,” said Strauss. “That was never true. We have found with our cord cutters that the channels are getting 10 times the usage they were getting with a pay TV subscriber.”

Peacock Premium features 20,000+ hours of content and ads at $4.99 a month (or free for Comcast and Cox cable subscribers); and another Peacock Premium version with no commercials runs $9.99 a month. The free ad-supported version offers 10,000+ hours of content with “no more than five minutes of commercials for each hour of programming.” NYT notes that Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, “designed the service so that it generates the bulk of its revenue from advertising, rather than subscriptions.”

“Many of us have been locked up for four months now,” said Kearney head of global consumer industries and retail Greg Portell. “We’ve gone through Disney+, Hulu and we are looking for something new.”

How to Stream Peacock: Everything You Need to Know About NBCUniversal’s New Streaming Service, The Verge, 7/15/20

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