Documentary+ Streaming Platform Joins Comcast’s Xumo Network

Documentary+, the streaming video platform of nonfiction films and series, is joining Xumo’s expanding library of 200+ premium ad-supported channels reaching more than 24 million unique users each month.

Documentary+ launched as an AVOD streaming service in January featuring an extensive library housing titles, including Anthony Bourdain’s A Cook’s Tour and VICE’s JungletownSluteverThe Last Shot and films from award-winning filmmakers such as Spike Jonze, Kathryn Bigelow, Penny Lane, Elaine May, Jessica Beshir, Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and Sam Pollard, with The Imposter, Cartel Land, and Life, Animated to name a few

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The Documentary+ channel on Xumo will feature 24/7 curated content from feature documentaries to cult classics and shorts and series, providing XUMO audiences access to their premium library of documentaries. Launching first on XUMO, the Documentary+ channel will be available on more FAST platforms soon, further expanding the platform’s streaming presence.

“With Xumo we can reach big new audiences and give our fans a 24/7 experience to watch the best in documentary film and television,” founder/CEO Bryn Mooser said in a statement.

Comcast-owned Xumo is available via a multi-screen distribution network of smart TVs, mobile, Web and popular streaming boxes. The Documentary+ on-demand streaming app is available globally for free on all streaming platforms including Apple TV, Amazon and Roku, mobile devices and www.docplus.com.

“The Documentary+ channel will engage millions of Xumo users with its extensive range of premium documentary films and series,” said Stefan Van Engen, SVP of content partnerships and programming at the Irvine, Calif.-based platform. “[We continue] to partner with best-in-class content providers and this new offering from Documentary+ is no exception.”

IMDb TV Lands First Pay-TV Partner: Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and X1

IMDb TV, Amazon’s ad-supported streaming service, Aug. 17 announced that its app is now available on Comcast’s Xfinity Flex and Xfinity X1. The launch on X1 marks IMDb TV’s first pay-TV partner, and expands Comcast’s embrace of competing digital platforms.

IMDb TV features originals from the award-winning Amazon Studios, including the recently launched docuseries “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary” and heist drama Leverage: Redemption, and the upcoming dramedy Pretty Hard Cases, premiering Sept 10.

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The free streaming service also features an extensive and updating library of movies and television shows, including “Chicago Fire,” “All in the Family,” The Hunger Games and How to Train Your Dragon, among others.

The expanded distribution follows IMDb TV app launches this year on Roku, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, LG Smart TVs (2018-21 models), PlayStation 4 consoles as well as Chromecast with Google TV, NVIDIA SHIELD and other Android TV devices. Earlier this month, the IMDb TV app launched on iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices in the United States.

In addition to third-party devices, IMDb TV is available as an app on Fire TV and a free Channel within the Prime Video app across hundreds of devices.

Tokyo Olympics Lowest-Rated Games Ever Since NBC Acquired Rights

The delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics proved to be a winner for Team USA, but not necessarily in the TV ratings competition. A day after the closing ceremony, NBCUniversal disclosed the Games averaged about 15.5 million primetime TV viewers over the course of 17-day broadcast period. The tally was 42% lower than the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics (26.7 million viewers) and 2012 London Olympics (31.1 million), and the lowest since NBC acquired the North American rights in 1988.

For NBCU, the ratings are not surprising considering the year-long delay of the 32nd Olympiad due to the pandemic, low approval among many Japanese for the quadrennial event to be held this year, and a general decline in broadcast television consumption. The media company reiterated that the games will be profitable despite the pandemic.

“When you look at the numbers in general and the impact that COVID has had on sports, we were prepared for these numbers,” Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, told The Wall Street Journal. “For better or worse, I really do believe the pandemic and postponement impacted these games.”

Separately, media measurement company TAD (Total Audience Delivery), reported that the ratings included streaming service Peacock, which featured the most Olympics events ever on an over-the-top video platform. When including streaming, top-rated days included Day 2 (July 25) with 20 million viewers; Day 6 (July 29) with 19.5 million, and Day 11 (July 27) with 17.4 million.

Peacock Tops 54 Million Sign-Ups, 20 Million Paid Subs Driven by Tokyo Olympics; Expanding SVOD to Sky in Europe

NBCUniversal’s hybrid Peacock SVOD/AVOD streaming platform ended the second quarter (through June 30) and year-to-date with 54 million sign-ups and 20 million subscribers. It was the largest subscriber growth for the year-old Peacock service.

The growth was driven in part by the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics as well as expedited access to Boss Baby: Family Business and original series “Dr. Death,” according to Comcast Corp. chairman/CEO Brian Roberts.

“This is 50% higher than our last report,” Roberts said on the fiscal call, adding that the current third quarter has been “particularly” strong in consumer awareness of the Peacock brand.

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“We are unlikely to replicate such [subscription] performance [going forward], but we remain optimistic,” he said.

Roberts said that later this year, Sky, the European-based satellite TV platform would include Peacock to its 20 million subscribers at no additional cost.

“The benefits of this launch are tremendous,” he said, adding that the expanded Peacock marketing would enhance advertising and brand opportunities worldwide.

“The decision to make Peacock the anchor tenet on the X1 and Flex platforms for its domestic launch [in 2020], is a key driver of brand awareness, scale, consumption, promotion,” Roberts said. “We see a similar opportunity with Sky.”

Finally, Roberts said the Tokyo Games would be profitable for NBCUniversal despite the absence of spectators in the competition venues and reduced prime-time TV viewers through the first days of the quadrennial event.

Comcast Adds Hulu + Live TV to Xfinity Flex

Comcast July 22 announced that its broadband-only Xfinity Flex subscribers now have access to Disney’s Hulu + Live TV, the largest online TV platform with more than 4 million subs.

Existing Hulu + Live TV subs can access their programming from within Flex’s existing Hulu app by saying “Hulu” into their Xfinity Voice Remote. After signing in with their credentials, they’ll have access to their full subscription — including dozens of live channels (and associated on demand programming) spanning sports, news, kids and entertainment, Hulu originals, exclusive series, and more. In the coming weeks, new customers will be able to sign-up for the service via their Flex devices.

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“The addition of Hulu + Live TV on Flex adds tremendous value for our internet customers, giving them access to more of their streaming content and subscriptions alongside a growing catalog of free programming — all seamlessly integrated into one voice-enabled and easy-to-navigate experience,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment for Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

Hulu + Live TV joins a growing list of linear streaming services available on Flex, including Xfinity Stream, Sling TV, Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount+, Xumo and Pluto.

NBCUniversal and Roku Partner for Tokyo Olympics Streaming

NBCUniversal and Roku July 20 announced a partnership to bring the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics to streamers on the Roku platform in the United States.

For the first time, Roku is creating direct access to NBCU’s 5,500 hours of streaming coverage of the Summer Games. Roku users will be able to access in-depth coverage of the Games via the NBC Sports or Peacock channels on Roku devices starting July 20 through August 8.

“As this is Peacock’s first Olympics, we saw a great opportunity to bring the games to life across the Roku platform,” Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for direct-to-consumer at NBCUniversal, said in a statement. “This experience on Roku makes NBC Olympics content unmissable for streamers.”

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NBCUniversal previously announced that it will present 7,000 hours of coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this summer across its multiple platforms.

“Streaming has fundamentally changed the way we come together for news, sports and entertainment today and nothing combines these moments together better and on a bigger scale than the Olympics,” said Tedd Cittadine, VP of content partnerships at Roku.

Specifically, Roku users will be offered a dedicated left-side menu on the home screen starting on July 20. The experience will be available on supported devices. Ahead of the Games, a countdown clock will track the time remaining to the Opening Ceremony and users will have access to free Olympics-related content, as well as a quick informational video on how to watch the Games on their Roku devices.

Once the Games begin, the countdown clock will be replaced with a medal tracker. Users will be able to stream free daily highlights, get access to live shows, condensed replays and highlights for free through Peacock. Users can watch live events through NBC Sports.

Comcast, ViacomCBS Bosses Reportedly Met to Discuss International Streaming Pact

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts, and ViacomCBS chairman Shari Redstone and CEO Bob Bakish reportedly met recently to discuss partnering in an international streaming video venture.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said the executives met at the end of June in New York to discuss possible scenarios in which the two media giants could partner in advancing their respective streaming platforms.

Shari Redstone

Comcast’s NBCUniversal launched the Peacock SVOD/AVOD platform last summer, while ViacomCBS transitioned CBS All Access into Paramount+ in March. Both platforms have international aspirations in an attempt to remain competitive with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

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Bob Bakish

Working together could benefit the companies as Comcast’s Roberts has publicly expressed a desire to find business partners for international expansion. Paramount+ plans to operate in 45 countries by 2022.

Netflix has seen the bulk of its subscriber growth originate outside the United States, while one-third of Disney+ subs come from India. Comcast also owns streaming service Now TV in the United Kingdom, operated by its Sky satellite TV subsidiary.

Regardless, strange bedfellows is indeed a possibility considering that since its launch, Peacock has generated 45 million sign-ups, but reportedly only about 10 million paying subscribers. ViacomCBS in May disclosed that its Paramount+, Showtime OTT and BET+ platforms had a combined paying sub base of 35.9 million.

By comparison, Netflix had 208 million subs at the end of March, a tally that could be closer to 210 million through the streamer’s fiscal second quarter, ended June 30. Prime Video touted 175 million subs two months ago, while Disney+ tops 103 million.

Comcast to Stream Tokyo Summer Olympics Beyond Peacock Platform

Comcast July 13 announced plans to deliver the Olympic viewing experience beyond the Peacock streaming platform, and include Xfinity subscribers on X1, Flex and the Xfinity Stream app. And for the first time, Comcast will offer the Games live in 4K UHD with Dolby Atmos sound.

As the country prepares for the start of the pandemic-delayed Games that will be void of any spectators due to Delta variant concerns, Comcast is rolling out new features on Xfinity X1, Xfinity Stream and, for the first time, Xfinity Flex, to bring compelling Olympic stories to more viewers here in the U.S.

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“This year, new features make navigating the Games even easier and more personalized, taking the Olympics experience to a new level,” Rebecca Heap, SVP of video and entertainment services for Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “And now with Flex, we have the opportunity to leverage some of the best features of X1, like our voice remote and aggregated guide, to introduce the Olympics and all its passion, exhilaration and glory to even more Xfinity customers.”

“Comcast’s work elevating the Olympics viewing experience has set a new industry standard for how we bring consumers the live events they care about deeply,” added Mac Budill, president of networks distribution for NBCUniversal. “We know these capabilities mean more engagement, personalization and time spent with arguably the most anticipated sporting event of our lifetime.”

On Xfinity Flex, Comcast will offer streamers a X1-like Olympics destination that brings all the Olympics-related programming available to stream on the platform into one integrated experience easily accessible by saying “Olympics” into the Xfinity Voice Remote.

Anchoring the destination will be all of Peacock’s live and on-demand programming that’s offered free to all Flex customers, including six themed channels; four live-studio shows; live coverage of gymnastics, track & field and the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, hundreds of short-form highlights and trending news clips; and several original docuseries and documentaries. Peacock’s programming will be curated alongside other Olympic-related programming from streaming services such as YouTube, HBO Max, Prime Video and more.

Flex customers wanting to experience more of the Games can quickly and easily upgrade to Xfinity TV via the Stream app so they can access NBC’s live coverage, including the Opening Ceremony and nightly Primetime Show, Telemundo and special access to Olympic Channel and Universo directly on their Flex device.

Comcast’s X1 set-top box will once again offer Xfinity TV customers the premiere Olympics viewing experience, offering aggregated, curated and personalized access to all 7,000 hours of NBCUniversal’s live, on demand, and streaming coverage of the Games — all in one place — on the TV and across mobile devices with the Xfinity Stream app.

Saying “Olympics” into the Xfinity Voice Remote will take customers to the Olympics destination, while special voice commands for athletes, sports, teams and featured nations will allow customers to get to their favorite Olympics content quickly.

X1 features include the first-ever fully-personalized experience across devices. With X1’s new personalization capabilities, customers can choose their favorite sports in just a few clicks to customize their Olympics destination, making it easier to find the live coverage they care about most alongside highlights of each chosen sport curated into their own personalized playlist. Any favorited sports will carry over to the Xfinity Stream app, so customers will see the same personalized experience when accessing the Games on the go.

  • Notifications for must-see moments. Customers will also have the option to receive notifications for their favorite sports and get live tune-in alerts for major moments and quick links to trending highlights directly on their TV and/or mobile device.
  • 100 editorially-curated playlists. Curated and updated in real-time by Xfinity sports editors with trending videos and breaking news, each playlist enables customers to lean in to choose the highlights they want to see or lean back and watch the stories of the Games unfold. The editors will
    create dedicated playlists for each Olympic sport, unique playlists for 30+ of the most-popular athletes, and more than a dozen themed playlists, such as “Gold Medal Moments,” “Best of Team USA,” “Record-Breakers,” “Epic Celebrations” and more.
  • The Olympics will be shown available live in 4K HDR with Dolby Atmos immersive audio, and X1 will offer customers full access. And for the first time, X1 customers with compatible devices will be able to experience all HDR coverage in Dolby Vision HDR. Live coverage will be available in most markets and include every night of the NBC primetime show, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, along with popular sports like gymnastics, track & field, swimming, diving, beach volleyball, golf, and tennis.
  • Sport, Athlete, and Nation pages. Every sport, top athlete and major nation will have their own voice-enabled X1 destination, blending live, on demand and short form programming so that customers can stay up to date on the sports, personalities and teams they care about most. Each page will be refreshed and updated daily and showcase programming that’s airing now, upcoming coverage, and the best highlights and replays.
  • Spanish-language coverage and specialized experience. X1 and Stream will bring NBCUniversal’s 300 hours of Spanish-language coverage to customers at home or on the go, and special in-language voice commands, such as “Olimpiadas,” “natacion” and “medallero,” will help
    customers navigate the Games in Spanish.
  • Audio Description enabled for key Olympic moments. Audio description will be enabled on the Olympics primetime show and Opening and Closing ceremonies (including the 4K version) so visually impaired customers can enjoy the excitement of the Games with their friends and family.

Comcast Seeking to Jumpstart Peacock Sub Growth via Connected TVs

Comcast reportedly is working with Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense and Walmart to market a line of connected televisions featuring the Peacock app, among others.

The media giant reported 42 million Peacock sign-ups through the first quarter (ended March 31). While the tally may seem large considering the AVOD/SVOD platform’s launch just nine months prior, the number of actual paying subs (10 million, according to The Walt Street Journal) suggests the service needs some help.

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Peacock will figure prominently next month during the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics, streaming some marquee events live — to paid subscribers.

Increasing that paid base — at a time when rivals Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ have a combined 450+ million subs — has become a major goal for Comcast senior management.

Speaking May 26 on the virtual JPMorgan 49th Annual Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, CFO Michael Cavanagh shed further light on the metrics, saying about one-third (or 13.8 million) of sign-ups use Peacock on a monthly basis. How many of them are paying a subscription remains unclear.

“We certainly would like to see more signups, more hours used,” Cavanagh said, adding the platform remains a work-in-progress convincing users to stream live sports (Premier League soccer), original sitcoms such as “Rutherford Falls,” “The Office” re-runs and live news going forward.

Earlier this month, NBCUniversal and Samsung announced that Peacock would available on Samsung Smart TVs. The partnership is noticeable since Samsung markets its own branded ad-supported streaming video platform.

“Samsung is a powerful platform and we are excited to bring Peacock to millions of their dedicated streamers across the country,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock.

Indeed, Comcast wants to use Peacock as lure to entice CE manufacturers to incorporate the platform as a conduit for third-party apps linked to the internet, similar to what Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast market.

The Journal reports that under the project name “PlatCo,” the cable TV giant is working to develop a line of connected TVs manufactured by China’s Hisense and sold in Walmart stores under the chain’s onn brand. Walmart also works with Roku for onn-branded soundbars.

“We’re learning as we go [on Peacock],” Cavanagh said. “And that is shaping our plans as we go forward. We’ve brought content production back. Working on getting Peacock on other platforms.”

NBCUniversal Aiming for 7,000 Hours of Tokyo Olympics Coverage

Japan may only have a small minority of its citizens vaccinated, with a majority opposed to the country hosting next month’s delayed 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, but that’s not stopping NBCUniversal from pulling out all the stops to broadcast and stream the games.

The media giant June 7 announced it would broadcast and stream upwards of 7,000 hours of coverage throughout the quadrennial spectacle taking place July 23 to Aug. 8 across myriad properties, including NBC, USA, CNBC, NBCSN and Peacock.

“We are going to deliver the most comprehensive — and accessible — coverage for any sports event in history,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “The depth and breadth of our broadcasts will be unprecedented, showcasing once-in-a-generation athletes and storylines that will capture the incredible uniqueness of these games and our times.”

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NBCUniversal and corporate parent Comcast have spent billions of dollars securing U.S. distribution rights to the Olympics through 2032.

Despite press claiming most Japanese were opposed to holding the games due to the pandemic, a new poll from Yomiuri Shimbun claimed that 50% of respondents want the games to be held this summer, with another 48% saying the event should be canceled. The paper’s previous poll had found 59% of respondents opposed to the games taking place. The telephone poll, conducted over three days from June 4 to 6, found 26% of the 1,070 respondents want the Olympics to be held without spectators, while 24% favored venues with limited seating.