Entertainment & Tech Summit

NBCUniversal’s Matt Strauss: Keynote at Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit

Variety co-editor-in-chief Cynthia Littleton spoke with NBCUniversal chairman of Peacock and direct-to-consumer Matt Strauss for his keynote at the Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit in October 2020, presented by City National Bank.

The conversation encapsulated the business strategies and targets for the content giant’s new streaming service, with Strauss identifying consumer habits the company has picked up on since launching Peacock.

“You’re starting to see the signs of what I would characterize as subscription fatigue,” said Strauss. “And consumers, based on some of the research that we did, we’re really looking for lower cost alternatives. I think that it’s only gotten increasingly more challenging in a COVID environment.”

To combat subscription cancellations, Peacock operates with a limited free tier (with ads) and two paid tiers, while also offering its own channels of content that stream certain programs or types of series around the clock. Likewise, bundling is also a component in driving up subscriptions, as Strauss believes the linear format of TV can exist online, as well.

“The cable bundle actually caps into a behavior that I think a lot of people really do gravitate towards, which is convenience,” he said. “At its core … the benefit of television is to be entertained, and sometimes you don’t want to think about it.”

Given the delay in most of its originals slate thanks to COVID-related production halts, finding success outside of scripted originals via acquisitions, late night blocks and sports programming is another big priority for the service.

“One of the acquisitions is a show called Yellowstone with Kevin Costner, and we did a deal for that show over a year ago where we’re the exclusive streaming home, and that has been incredibly popular on our platform,” explained Strauss.”

“We’ve created a late night block with Amber Ruffin and Larry Wilmore, which is doing very well for us,” he followed. “And then sports programming, we shifted the premier league to Peacock, where we’ve got 175 games exclusively on Peacock.”