Peacock at Launch Tops App Annie’s Download List — But So Did Quibi

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.

Comcast Launches $5 Streaming Video Service with Netflix and Movies Anywhere Access

Comcast Cable has finally joined the over-the-top video ecosystem with the launch of Xfinity Flex — a $5 monthly service offering Xfinity broadband-only subscribers direct access (for a separate fee) to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Now, in addition to ad-supported content, and digital movies for sale and rent.

Xfinity Flex comes with more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows — including live streaming TV — from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, Cheddar, YouTube and more.

The service features an integrated guide and voice control, enabling customers to browse and access programming across Netflix, Prime Video, HBO, and Showtime, rent and purchase movies and shows from the digital store, access their digital lockers across platforms by pairing their account with Movies Anywhere, or listen to music from Pandora, iHeartRadio, and XITE.

And soon, Xfinity Flex subs will be able to upgrade to the full Xfinity X1 cable service from the guide, which offers hundreds of live channels, tens of thousands of on demand titles, and a cloud DVR.

The service comes as Apple and Disney ready branded OTT video platforms, with WarnerMedia slated to launch a competing service in 2020.

“[The Internet] is becoming the center of gravity as we move more and more toward connectivity,” Matthew Strauss, EVP of Xfinity Services told CNET, which is owned by CBS Interactive.

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Strauss said the service would underscore Comcast’s ongoing strategy tying the Internet and television through the cloud-based Xfinity set-top.

“[We want consumers] to start thinking of the television as a digital display,” Strauss said.

Specifically,  Xfinity Flex will be packaged with an Internet-connected, 4K HDR streaming TV device, which includes a voice remote, integrated guide for accessing popular streaming video and music choices, as well as Comcast’s home WiFi, mobile, security and automation services.

“Xfinity Flex will deepen our relationship with a certain segment of our Internet customers and provide them with real value,” Strauss said.

As more connected devices, streaming choices, and smart home services come online, Xfinity Flex will provide customers with an easy way to better manage, control and enjoy the connected home as it continues to grow.