Peacock Strikes Content Licensing Agreement With ViacomCBS

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s pending streaming service, July 1 announced an agreement to license Paramount Pictures movies and TV shows from the ViacomCBS library.

TV shows include “Ray Donovan,” “The Affair,” “Charmed,” “Undercover Boss,” “The Game,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood” will be available to stream on Peacock when it launches nationwide July 15. They will continue to be available on ViacomCBS platforms.

Paramount movies on Peacock in limited exclusivity windows throughout 2021, 2022, and 2023, include The Godfather trilogy, Catch Me If You Can, The Talented Mr. Ripley, American Beauty, Patriot Games, Last Holiday, Fatal Attraction, The Firm, and An Officer and a Gentleman, among others.

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“We continue to expand the Peacock catalog with premium programming from NBCUniversal and beyond; partnering with companies like ViacomCBS to ensure that all of our viewers can choose from the best entertainment options available in the market today,” Frances Manfredi, president, content acquisition and strategy, Peacock, said in a statement.

In two weeks, Peacock will launch across mobile, Web and connected TV platforms with a free tier featuring more than 7,500 hours of movies, shows, and live and on-demand programming across news, sports, reality and late night. Peacock Premium will also be available for $4.99 per month and feature more than 15,000 hours of content. Viewers may also upgrade Peacock Premium to ad-free for an additional $5 per month.

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“This agreement with Peacock demonstrates the incredible and enduring value of ViacomCBS content,” said Dan Cohen, president of ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group. “The partnership we are announcing today is consistent with our strategy to maximize the value of our content by selectively licensing our library product to third parties while prioritizing franchise IP for our own platforms.”

Peacock Streaming Service Launching April 15 With AVOD and SVOD Options

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke Jan. 16 announced the April 15 launch of branded subscription streaming video service Peacock on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex video platforms before bowing nationwide on July 15, offering more than 600 movies and 400 series and ranging from free (ad-supported Peacock Free app) to $4.99 and $9.99 (in 4K UHD).

Peacock Platinum will target 24 million pay-TV subs, including Comcast Cable and third-party partner Cox Communications priced at $4.99 monthly. The company expects to reach 30-35 million active accounts by 2024.

Speaking from Studio8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan, Burke highlighted the advantanges of over-the-top video by the recent return to “Saturday Night Live” with Eddie Murphy, which he said saw a 31% uptick in viewership due in part to streaming.

“On-demand vieweing has generated larger and  larger audiences, but we don’t know how to monetize them well,” Burke said. “We don’t the control the consumer experience.”

The executive said that with Peacock there’s “a clear opportunity” to create a streaming property “we control and own.”

Burke said the ad-supported business is a proven business model. Working with Sky’s Now TV, which will provide the technology backbone to the Peacock service, Burke said Comcast, NBC Universal and Sky offer a great business opportunity entering the OTT ecosystem.

Peacock’s AVOD launch sponsors include Eli Lilly and Company, State Farm, Target and Unilever.

Linda Yaccarino, chairperson of NBC Universal Advertising, said the streaming service would help advertisers reach consumers at a lower cost.

“Without scale you can’t have impact,” Yaccarino said, adding that Peacock would have the “lightest ad load” in the OTT industry, with just five minutes of ads per hour of programming.

“[The] best possible environment for consumers and advertisers,” she said.

Tina Fey, who credited her start in show business to NBC, came on stage to announce her new original series, “Girls5Eva,” about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the 90’s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot.

The platform will be the non-exclusive streaming platform to more than 1,000 episodes featuring “Law and Order,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” and “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Med” and “Chicago P.D.” franchises from creator Dick Wolf.

The platform also inked a deal for “Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud” comedy series.

Peacock will also stream Paramount Network series “Yellowstone,” the Kevin Costner drama, licensed from ViacomCBS. Additionally, “Two and a Half Men,” and “The George Lopez Show” from Warner Brothers were announced.

Noteworthy original series in development for Peacock include: “Expecting,” from Mindy Kaling, “Division One,” from Amy Poehler, “Clean Slate,” from Norman Lear and “MacGruber,” from Will Forte.

Previously announced Peacock scripted originals include comedies such as “Rutherford Falls,” “Saved by the Bell,” “A.P. Bio,” “Punky Brewster,” and the movie spinoff “Psych 2: Lassie Come Home,” as well as dramas “Dr. Death,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Brave New World,” “Angelyne” and “Armas de Mujer.”

Movie selections will be curated by online ticket service Fandango, which is owned by Comcast. Peacock will have the exclusive streaming rights for the 2020 Universal film slate and beyond in the network window. Films will include live action feature films, including Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World 3.

Matt Strauss, chairman, Peacock and NBCUniversal digital enterprises, said consumers are watching more premium content than in the history of television. But the rise in streaming video challenges include content fragmentation, endless scrolling and prices.

He that while 65% of time people know what they want to watch. Peacock will have robust on-demand content offering. Borrowing from Spotify, Peacock will have channels of content, trending playlists, and dedicated channels of programming for specific users.

“We see this as an opportunity with Peacock,” he said.

Seth Meyers, who opened with a Theranos joke (for the investor audience), said Studio8H has been incubator for televised comedy and conduit for Peacock’s comedy slate.

Jimmy Fallon announced that his “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” would stream early for the firs time (an hour early at 8 p.m.) on Peacock each night.

The platform will also figure prominently at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, featuring live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies before they air on NBC in primetime. The service will stream three daily Olympic shows, including “Tokyo Live,” “Tokyo Daily Digest,” and “Tokyo Tonight.” Peacock will also stream Olympic documentaries and specials.

“Nothing brings the world together than the Olympics,” Mike Tirico, primetime host of NBC’s quadrennial coverage, told attendees.

Peacock will be home to live breaking news coverage, including the 2020 presidential election. NBC News Now, the newly launched streaming network, will bring Peacock viewers “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt” as well as original video from “Today” and across the NBC News portfolio.

The longest running show in television history will also be part of the newest streaming platform — with an original offering from “Meet the Press With Chuck Todd” on Peacock each weekday. In addition, NBC News will create original documentaries for Peacock — delving deep into politics, biographies and history. Peacock will also be home to full episodes of “Dateline” — the true crime original.

 

NBC Universal Holding Peacock Investor Event Jan. 16

Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal is set to unveil on Jan. 16 further details about its branded Peacock subscription streaming video service in a special investor event at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Longtime Comcast executive Matthew Strauss and other senior executives are expected to shed additional light on the service the media company heretofore has been tight-lipped about. Indeed, the price points for Peacock (reported to be $9.99 and $4.99 for an ad-supported option) remain officially unknown.

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The SVOD service is a big step for Comcast, which heretofore has eschewed streaming video for traditional pay-TV and on-demand programming. The cable giant in 2016 embraced Netflix and YouTube in efforts to keep Xfinity subscribers in the fold.  In 2018, it added Netflix to Xfinity cable bundles.

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With Apple and Disney launching competing services last year, and WarnerMedia bowing HBO Max in May, the SVOD market has quickly expanded beyond Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, including jumpstarting an ad-supported VOD market.

Comcast has hinted at offering Peacock for free to Xfinity subs, but no official word whether that will indeed be an option.

Universal, Warner Bros. To Merge Domestic Disc Businesses

After a year of two gigantic mergers, Hollywood is welcoming the new year with further consolidation — this time, in the home entertainment sector.

Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. on Jan. 15 announced plans to merge their physical distribution businesses.

On the domestic front, the two studios are establishing a joint venture to market and distribute Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and 4K Ultra HD discs in the United States and Canada.

The new unit, which still must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, is expected to officially launch early in 2021. It will combine the existing domestic disc businesses of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and be headed by current UPHE President Eddie Cunningham.

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Internationally, territories will be broken up through licensing arrangements. Warner Bros. will assume distribution duties of UPHE discs in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg). UPHE will distribute Warner products in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Japan.

The digital distribution business at each studio will not be affected.

The proposed union covers new releases and library titles as well as television content, and will be operational for up to 10 years.

The domestic joint venture will include leadership from both UPHE and Warner Bros., and covers trade marketing, sales and distribution.

Consumer marketing remains with each studio.

The announcement was made by Peter Levinsohn, president and Chief Distribution Officer of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and Ron Sanders, president of Worldwide Theatrical Distribution & Home Entertainment and EVP of International Business Operations at Warner Bros.

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“As the home entertainment landscape evolves, we are continuously working to deliver the best entertainment range and value to our fans,” said Sanders.  “The physical business is still an important and active category for the industry.  This proposed joint venture with Universal gives us the best opportunity to foster innovation in this business, optimize the physical offering and extend the lifespan of the format for our fans and consumers.”

“With market conditions and consumer viewing behaviors continuing to evolve, we wanted a partner who shares in our commitment to deliver the best consumer proposition going forward,” Levinsohn said. “This proposed JV presents a significant opportunity to continue to work with our retail partners to ensure the format’s strength and sustainability for years to come.”

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On the appointment of Cunningham, Levinsohn said, “For more than two decades Eddie has been an expert in understanding the evolution of the physical home entertainment landscape.  He’s been a dynamic leader in shepherding business innovation and operational effectiveness.”

This is not the first time studios have joined forces in their home entertainment endeavors. In the early 1980s, Columbia (now Sony) Pictures created a joint venture with RCA to distribute videocassettes to the then-burgeoning rental market. RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video was in operation for more than a decade; in the meantime, the industry saw several other joint ventures, including CBS/Fox Video and Thorn-EMI/HBO Video.

NBC Universal to Combine Ad Selling in the Digital Era

Continuing with the advertising theme in an over-the-top video ecosystem at CES 2020, NBC Universal is consolidating the selling of ad space across its linear and digital platforms.

Speaking Jan. 7 at CES, Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, told attendees ad buyers would soon be able to acquire spots under the company’s “One Platform” banner and in the process streamline the process across linear and digital properties — the latter including the April launch of the Peacock streaming service.

NBC Universal ad boss Linda Yaccarino.

“We know that viewers do not differentiate content by network, time or screen; instead, our fans see NBC Universal as one giant home to the best stories, so that’s the mindset we’ll go to market with in 2020,” Yaccarino said in a statement.

The move comes as media companies roll out subscription video-on-demand and ad-supported VOD services in an effort to narrow the gap between OTT behemoths Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.

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With the surge in SVOD services comes fatigue among consumers facing myriad monthly subscription fees ranging from $4 to $15 monthly. Advertising is seen as a way to offset loss-leading subscription fees while enabling a shadow AVOD market.

Many observers have suggested Netflix should start selling ads due to its massive global subscriber base, in addition to mounting long-term debt from bond sales. The SVOD pioneer heretofore has refused to run ads.

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NBC Universal’s Peacock service will be SVOD and ad-supported, depending on the targeted user such as Xfinity subs and consumers with no Comcast connection.

“If you do that, advertising with a light ad load, with the premium content that will be on this network, this will be unlike any advertising inventory available,” CEO Brian Roberts told the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York last year.

 

NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service Launches Twitter Account

In today’s media world, you can’t go far without social media, or a Twitter account.

NBCUniversal has just launched a Twitter account for Peacock, its standalone subscription/ad-supported streaming video service launching in April.

The service will feature movies and TV shows from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, Illumination, DreamWorks Animation and Lionsgate.

The service at launch promises around 15,000 hours of content, including catalog titles “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” and reboots of “Battlestar Galactica,” “Saved by the Bell” and “Punky Brewster,” among others.

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Other shows include “30 Rock,” “Bates Motel,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Cheers,” “Chrisley Knows Best,” “Covert Affairs,” “Downton Abbey,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Friday Night Lights,” “House,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,””King of Queens,” “Married … With Children,” “Monk,” “Parenthood,” “Psych,” “Royal Pains,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Superstore,” “The Real Housewives,” “Top Chef” and “Will & Grace,” among others.

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NBCUniversal Inks Nordics Streaming, Pay-TV Distribution

NBCUniversal International has signed a distribution deal with Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) for a wide range of kids and family content. The deal covers NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service and pay-TV channels.

Viaplay viewers will be the first in the Nordic region to stream DreamWorks Animation series, “Where’s Waldo?,” “Cleopatra in Space,” “Dragons: Defenders of Berk,” in addition to NBC Universal animated series “Curious George,” among others.

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The deal includes DreamWorks Animation movie franchises “Shrek,” “Trolls,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Boss Baby”; Illumination library titles Sing and Despicable Me, in addition to more than 30 ‘Barbie’ films.

In March, NENT Group and NBCUniversal extended their long-term exclusive content partnership, allowing new films from NBCUniversal to reach viewers in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland on Viaplay and Viasat.

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“High-quality kids content is a cornerstone of Viaplay’s unique offering, and this latest agreement with NBC Universal means that our younger viewers can experience even more fantastic entertainment featuring their favorite characters,” Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group chief content officer, said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing the best of Hollywood to audiences of all ages across the Nordic region for years to come.”

NBCUniversal Peacock Service Eyeing $4.99/$10 Price Options

NBCUniversal’s high-profile branded subscription streaming service Peacock reportedly will be priced at $4.99 monthly with commercials and $10 without.

Citing sources, The Information disclosed the price points, which launches in April 2020. NBC Universal has not disclosed pricing for the SVOD service.

The pricing rivals Apple TV+, while undercutting CBS All Access ($5.99), Disney+ ($6.99), Amazon Prime Video ($8.99), Netflix ($8.99), Showtime ($10.99) and HBO Max ($14.99), among others.

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Peacock will launch with more than 15,000 hours of content and takes center stage at the end of July during the 2020 Summer Olympics. It will feature NBC catalog shows, “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” in addition to movies from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination.

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Jeff Shell to Become NBC Universal CEO on Jan. 1, 2020

As expected, NBC Universal has tapped Jeff Shell to become chairman and CEO of the media company effective Jan. 1, 2020, replacing Steve Burke, who announced he is stepping down after eight years. NBC Universal properties include Universal Pictures and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Shell is a longtime NBC executive having overseen NBC Entertainment, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Telemundo and NBC Universal International, among other positions.

Burke will retire on Aug. 14, 2020, following the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Shell will report to Burke, who will move to the role of chairman, NBC Universal. Upon Burke’s retirement, Shell will report directly to Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp., which completed its takeover of the company in January 2011.

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“Jeff Shell is the ideal executive to take the helm at NBC Universal,” Roberts said in a statement. “He has a stellar track record across both the film and TV side of the business, as well as a wealth of international experience. I could not be more confident in his ability to lead NBC Universal into the future.”

Under Burke’s leadership, NBC Universal increased its adjusted pre-tax earnings from $3.4 billion to $8.6 billion since the Comcast acquisition through 2018 — achieving the fastest annual growth rate of any major media company.

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Yet Burke has also been hesitant to embrace over-the-top video, including online TV. The executive famously told an investor call in 2017 that online TV was a money-losing proposition, adding the format was not “material” to the pay-TV business.

“We have deals in place with all of them,” Burke said on the call. “But it’s a very tough business and we’re skeptical it’s going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it. And they’re off to a relatively slow start.”

NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke Stepping Down in 2020

NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke is reportedly leaving his position in 2020, nine years after assuming the title following Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal from General Electric.

Burke would likely be replaced by Jeff Shell, current chairman of Universal Film and Entertainment, although no official announcements about the executive changes have been made by Comcast.

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The 61-year-old Burke’s departure comes as NBC Universal readies Peacock, a branded subscription video-on-demand platform with an ad-supported component. It marks Comcast’s first standalone foray into over-the-top video distribution after decades of sticking behind cable-based pay-tv.

Indeed, as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, which Comcast co-owned, flourished, Burke insisted digital distribution — notably online TV — was “not all that material to our business.”

“We have deals in place with all of them,” Burke said on a 2017 fiscal call. “But it’s a very tough business and we’re skeptical it’s going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it. And they’re off to a relatively slow start.”

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On that call, Burke agreed linear pay-TV would continue to be challenged by online, but suggested cable distribution, which features prominently in the company’s quadrennial Olympics, Super Bowl and NBC Network broadcasts, remained lucrative.

“[Broadcast] demand for the last two or three years has been remarkably consistent,” he said at the time. The business is “certainly more challenging, but I like our hand.”