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NBCU’s Peacock Pricing and Launch Dates Announced

Peacock will unfold its tail feathers this spring for Comcast customers — and will launch widely across the U.S. this summer.

The streaming service from Comcast and NBCUniversal will be available April 15 in an early version for Comcast’s Xfinity TV and broadband-only customers. It will debut nationally July 15, including a free, ad-supported version of Peacock that carries about half the content, timed for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Pricing tiers for the service are as follows:

  • Peacock Premium: With a total of 15,000 hours of live and on-demand content, this tier will be available to Comcast Xfinity TV and broadband subscribers (via Flex) and Cox Communications’ video customers — with ads — for no additional charge. The company expects to bundle Peacock Premium with additional partners in the coming months. Comcast and Cox customers can upgrade to an ad-free version of Peacock Premium for an additional $5 per month.
  • Peacock Premium is available for $10 per month for no ads and $5 monthly with ads for those who don’t have service through a Peacock-affiliated TV or broadband provider.
  • Peacock Free: The free, ad-supported option will have some 7,500 hours of programming, including next-day access to current seasons of NBC freshman broadcast TV series (whereas Peacock Premium also includes current seasons of returning series); full runs of older series; movies; daily news and sports programming; Spanish-language content; and select episodes of Peacock originals and tentpole series.

Peacock will offer more than 400 series and 600 movies as well as live and on-demand content across news, sports (including select live coverage and content from the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics), late night, and reality TV. Peacock will have exclusive streaming rights for Universal Pictures’ 2020 film slate and beyond in the network TV window, including “Fast & Furious 9” and “Jurassic World 3,” marking the end of the Universal output deal with FX

“This is a very exciting time for our company, as we chart the future of entertainment,” NBCU chairman Steve Burke said in announcing the rollout plan. “We have one of the most enviable collections of media brands and the strongest ad sales track record in the business. Capitalizing on these key strengths, we are taking a unique approach to streaming that brings value to customers, advertisers and shareholders.”

Comcast and NBCU announced the details at an investor event Thursday at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York — where it also unveiled a slew of new programming deals. Those include original comedies from Tina Fey, Sky Studios, Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler; a multiyear partnership with Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud network; and a deal for 1,000-plus episodes from Dick Wolf’s Wolf Entertainment, including the original “Law & Order”; and exclusive licensing pacts for “Two and a Half Men,” “The George Lopez Show,” Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” and “Curious George.” In addition, Peacock Premium will stream episodes of NBC’s late-night shows ahead of TV broadcast: “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will be on the service starting at 8 p.m. ET and “Late Night with Seth Meyers” will hit at 9 p.m. ET.

Both the free and premium versions of Peacock will include curated genre channels like “SNL Vault,” “Family Movie Night,” “Olympic Profiles” and “L&O Dun-Dun” (which will run nothing but episodes of “Law & Order” all the time).

As previously announced, Peacock will include “The Office” (which is leaving Netflix at the end of 2020), “Parks and Recreation,” “Married With Children,” “The King of Queens,” “30 Rock,” “House,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Cheers,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Will & Grace.” Previously announced Peacock scripted originals include comedies “Rutherford Falls,” “Saved by the Bell,” “A.P. Bio,” “Punky Brewster” and movie spinoff “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home” and dramas “Dr. Death,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Brave New World,” “Angelyne” and “Armas de Mujer.”

Peacock will be integrated with Comcast’s Xfinity TV and Flex platforms, and will be available across web (at peacocktv.com), mobile and connected-TV platforms, according to Comcast/NBCU.

Comcast has projected investing $2 billion into Peacock over 2020 and 2021. The company expects the streamer to generate $2.5 billion in revenue by 2024 and break even that year, with Peacock anticipated to be profitable in 2025 and beyond, according to Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises.

Peacock Premium will be available to 24 million Comcast and Cox subscribers. By 2024, Comcast and NBCU expect the streaming service will have between 30 million-35 million active accounts; they didn’t provide a breakdown for projected subscribers on free vs. paid tiers.

Down the road, Comcast/NBCU plans to launch Peacock internationally. However, “For now, we are focused on the U.S.,” said Strauss.

Peacock will take flight in an increasingly crowded direct-to-consumer video space. It will battle for share against Netflix — the 800-pound gorilla in subscription VOD today — as well as Disney’s Hulu and recently bowed Disney Plus; Amazon’s Prime Video; Apple TV Plus; Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s Quibi (coming in April); WarnerMedia’s HBO Max (set for a May 2020 debut); and numerous others.

Peacock’s hybrid business model differs from pure-play subscription video-on-demand players like Netflix or Apple TV Plus. Comcast and NBCU are looking to generate dual revenue streams through subscription fees and ads (as Hulu does). In addition, Peacock is a vehicle to support Comcast’s declining pay-TV biz, and it’s also designed to deliver a monetizable over-the-top video service to cord-cutters who have Xfinity Internet.

There’s a shakeout looming in subscription VOD, as the booming number of options threatens to overwhelm consumers — forcing them to pick which ones they will stick with longer-term.

On average, U.S. consumers are willing to subscribe to a maximum of four streaming services and pay an average of $42 per month for them, according to data from consulting and research firm Magid. One-third of consumers say they struggle with managing their video subscriptions, Magid’s research shows, so the arrival of more streaming services is bound to increase the sense of subscription fatigue and frustration.

To address “subscription fatigue,” a version of Peacock will be available “for the price of free,” Strauss said. Advertising will be capped at 5 minutes of ads per hour, he said.

“There are many streaming options available in the market coming to super-serve this segment,” Strauss said at the Peacock event. But, he said, consumers are increasingly looking to access content in exchange for watching ads for a lower cost. That “represents a growing white-space opportunity in the streaming market,” and Peacock is “squarely focused” on ad-supported video distribution, Strauss said.

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