NBCUniversal Streaming Service to Launch in April, Sky to Expand Original Content

Comcast units are double down on the content and streaming wars as NBCUniversal plans to launch its advertising-supported streaming platform in April and Sky is vowing to double the volume of original content it delivers with an emphasis on European material.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch talked up the company’s content options during Comcast’s second quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Burke said NBCU has more than 500 people working on the NBCUniversal streaming platform. The venture will use the same digital infrastructure that supports Sky’s Now streaming platform in Europe, Burke said.

“We believe we have a very innovative way of coming to the market that is very different than anything else and has very attractive financial aspects,” Burke said.

NBCU recently struck a deal to scoop up exclusive streaming rights to “The Office” as a marquee property for the streaming service, although it will not return to NBCU from Netflix until 2021. Burke noted that Nielsen research shows that viewership of “Office” episodes amounts to 5% of all Netflix volume. The comedy series that aired on NBC from 2005 to 2013 is “tied to the DNA” of NBC, Burke said. “We see ‘The Office’ as one of the tentpole programs on our platforms.”

Darroch pointed to the success of Sky’s co-production with HBO on the miniseries “Chernobyl” as an example of how strong content can travel widely. The newly launched Sky Studios production entity is a key focus for the satcaster.

Darroch sees an opportunity to “tell European stories at a scale that we’ve never seen before,” he said.  “There’s a real spot for us to dive into now.” He said that Sky’s originals push would eventually “displace” some of its acquired programming expenditures.

Burke said NBCUniversal is also investing in originals for its streaming platform, which will be advertising supported and available for free to those who have a traditional MVPD subscription or for a monthly fee. Burke said there was a focus on “originals tied to libraries we currently own” in developing fresh content for the service, such as the plan to greenlight a third season of canceled NBC sitcom “A.P. Bio.” He also pointed again to Netflix as a guide, asserting that acquired programming still accounts for around 80% of Netflix’s streaming volume.

“We are spending money on originals,” Burke said. “I would expect the vast majority of consumption in the beginning would be (of) acquired programs.”

More TV

  • 'Parasite,' 'Jojo Rabbit' Win ACE Eddie

    'Parasite,' 'Jojo Rabbit' Win ACE Eddie Awards for Top Feature Films

    “Parasite” and “Jojo Rabbit” have won the top feature film trophies at the 70th Annual ACE Eddie Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Jinmo Yang won the dramatic feature category for “Parasite” over “Ford v Ferrari,” “Joker,” “The Irishman,” and “Marriage Story.” The victory marks the first time in ACE Eddie Awards history that a [...]

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

  • Cynthia Erivo25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards,

    Cynthia Erivo Talks Singing Live on Set for 'Genius: Aretha'

    Cynthia Erivo confirmed the rumor that she is indeed singing live on set for “Genius: Aretha.” During the Nat Geo series’ Television Critics’ Association press tour pane, Erivo discussed how singing live allowed her to capture the voice and essence of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. “Singing is my second language, the rumor is [...]

  • Ramy Youssef, star of the upcoming

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Reveals 'Ramy' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, Hulu released premiere dates for “Ramy,” “The Great” and “Solar Opposites,” and Variety obtained an exclusive clip from “Duncanville.” DATES Showtime announced Mo’nique‘s new standup comedy special, “Mo’nique & Friends: Live From Atlanta,“ will air Feb. 7 at 10 p.m. The hour-long special features a variety of talented newcomers including Prince T-Dub, [...]

  • Armando Iannucci on Leaving 'Insult Heavy

    'Avenue 5': Armando Iannucci on Leaving 'Insult Heavy Political Dramas' Behind

    In a sketch from “The Armando Iannucci Shows,” a Channel 4 series from the “Veep” creator’s early catalogue, a couple tours a house with an eye to buying it. However, they discover that the property is, in fact, a paper drawing made by a bunch of youths with massive, life-sized crayons. Such commentary on the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content