Insider Insights

Video: How NBCU’s Peacock Stacks Up to Rivals

NBCUniversal is hoping consumers will start making room in their digital video rotations for Peacock, the company’s video streamer that started rolling out today to consumers nationwide. Peacock rounds out the series of recent major video streaming launches that began with services from Apple and Disney last November, and aims to succeed in a crowded field still dominated by Netflix. 

To get a clearer picture of Peacock’s strengths, weaknesses, and likelihood of success, VIP media analyst Kevin Tran sat down with Todd Spangler, Variety’s New York-based digital editor. Spangler, who just wrote a cover story on Peacock, has been following the streamer since it was merely an unnamed NBCU idea in 2019. 

Tran and Spangler discuss an array of topics regarding Peacock’s chances of success, from pricing strategy and launch timing to cross-platform availability. Similar to recent launch HBO Max, Peacock will hit the U.S. market broadly without distribution on Roku and Amazon streaming devices, which collectively account for the majority of U.S. connected-TV viewing hours. 

Their conversation also touches on an increasingly pertinent topic for all major U.S. entertainment conglomerates as spiking COVID-19 cases continue to threaten movie theater reopenings: Premium video-on-demand. With the commercial success of Universal’s “Trolls World Tour” already under its belt, will the company explore further eschewing theatrical releases in favor of exclusively releasing films on Peacock as time goes on?

“They’re not gonna be doing what Disney has done…slipstreaming their theatrical releases into Peacock,” says Spangler. “For now, that’s not on the table….it’s an entertainment service, but they’re really laying into the TV side of it,” he continues. That shouldn’t be an issue for Peacock, whose TV catalog features hits like “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Saved by the Bell.”

“It’ll still have a strong library, it’ll still have live content, it’ll still have all these beloved franchises,” reminds Tran. However, Spangler is somewhat skeptical. “I don’t think there’s a big bang,” he reasons, saying NBCU doesn’t necessarily need such a big splash entering the market. “This is a multi-year plan, and they’re planning out five years plus on where to take Peacock,” he says.

“Their hand was forced,” he continues, explaining they had to respond to the growing streaming efforts from direct competitors. “Given the cards they were holding…I think they made a lot of the best decisions they possibly could,” he concludes.