July 16, 2020
NEWS ANALYSIS — A day after the much-ballyhooed launch of Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, corporate parent Comcast Corp. was strangely silent about the initial reaction from consumers.
The company’s press site had no updated news, just a link to an appearance by Matthew Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” the day before the launch.
But third-party reports suggest strong demand for Peacock, which offers subscribers access to more than 20,000 hours of content from networks and studios.
The Peacock app topped the “free apps” list for July 15 from tracking service App Annie, ahead of Zoom Cloud Meetings, YouTube and TikTok.
And while app downloads only tell a partial story — they only include mobile use — beating Zoom, whose popularity mushroomed with remote working brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, is no small feat. And yet it’s a little early for Peacock champagne corks to pop.
Quibi, the short-form streaming service launched by ex-Walt Disney and DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman, also topped App Annie’s list of the most-downloaded free apps on launch day in early April.
Within two months, the app was no longer among the top 1,000 free apps, according to another tracking service, Sensor Tower. And in July Sensor Tower said that only 8% of trial subscribers had converted into pay subscribers. It must be noted that Quibi debates that data.
“The number of paid subscribers is incorrect by an order of magnitude,” according to a Quibi statement. “To date, over 5.6 million people have downloaded the Quibi app. Our conversion from download to trial is above mobile app benchmarks, and we are seeing excellent conversion to paid subscribers — both among our 90-day free trial sign-ups from April, as well as our 14-day free trial sign-ups from May and June.”
Comcast, which reports second fiscal results July 30, will likely defer any quantitative consumer data for Peacock until then. The service — like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max — has met significant distribution challenges from the outset with both Roku and Amazon Prime Channels not listing the app reportedly due to contractual differences over who controls user data, among other issues. The two platforms account for 70% of the combined market share as of July 2019, according to Parks Associates.
Roku reportedly demands 20% of subscription fees, with Amazon commanding upwards of 45% from users who subscribe through their channel features. But the platforms are also asking for ad inventory, free content for the Roku Channel and Amazon’s IMDb TV, according to Variety.