Netflix, Disney+, Hulu Take on Peacock in Tokyo Olympics Ad Competition

On the first prime time competitions broadcast July 24 of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on NBC, Netflix made a quiet entry into the TV commercial competition.

The 30-second spot highlighting original content aired during broadcast of Team USA’s first medals at the Games, when male and female swimmers snatched six medals, including the country’s first Gold by Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400-meter individual medley.

Disney+ and Hulu carried ad spots on the second primetime broadcast on July 25.

The price for a 30-second prime-time commercial at the Tokyo Games reportedly exceeds $1 million.

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The Netflix spot was the only SVOD promo to go up against NBCUniversal’s non-stop run of commercials for Peacock, the hybrid SVOD/AVOD platform launched a year ago. The Games NBC Sports host Mike Tirico shrewdly called out Peacock screen shots that viewers could toggle to watch ongoing competition in other sports (women’s softball) as well as VOD recaps of the men’s cycling road race.

Netflix ended the most-recent fiscal period with almost 210 million global subscribers. It also lost 430,000 net subs in North America.

NBCUniversal is pulling out the stops in an effort to jumpstart Peacock, which reported 42 million sign-ups through the first quarter (ended March 31), but reportedly just 10 million paying subscribers — suggesting the service needs an Olympian boost.

Peacock is featuring live coverage of some the Games’ biggest events, including gymnastics, track & field, and the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team’s pursuit of their fourth straight gold. In addition, Peacock will feature new daily live shows, original programming, Olympics channels and curated highlights of NBC Olympics’ coverage. All of Peacock’s Tokyo Olympics programming will be available to stream for free, with exception of USA Men’s Basketball live coverage that will only be available to Peacock Premium subscribers.

Regardless, the Games’ appeal to U.S. TV viewers could be declining. The network’s broadcast of the opening ceremony reportedly drew 16.7 million viewers, the smallest U.S. TV audience for the event in the past 33 years. At the same time, streaming viewership increased to 17 million across all digital platforms, including NBCOlympics.com.

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