NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service Bowing on Apple Devices in July

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, May 6 announced it would be available on Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, when it launches nationally July 15.

The distribution is noteworthy as Apple has its own streaming service, Apple TV+, including original programming, also available on its hardware devices.

At that time, Peacock will offer a free, ad-supported tier featuring more than 7,500 hours of movies, shows, and timely live and on-demand programming across news, sports, reality and late night.

Follow us HERE on Twitter

Peacock Premium will be available for $4.99 per month and features more than 15,000 hours of content. Viewers may also upgrade Peacock Premium to ad-free for an additional $5.00, or $9.99 per month.

Peacock will be fully integrated with the Apple TV app, so users can stream across all Apple devices and find content in the “Watch Now” section, add shows, movies and live sports to “Up Next,” to ensure they never miss a thing, and use Siri to search for Peacock content.

Users will be able to sign up for Peacock Free or upgrade to Peacock Premium directly within the Peacock app on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV using an in-app purchase.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Our priority is to bring Peacock’s unrivaled collection of content to people across major distributors and device platforms,” Matt Bond, chairman of content distribution at NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

In addition to current-season programming from NBC and Telemundo, Peacock users will have access to Universal Pictures movies, including the “Jurassic Park” franchise, E.T., Meet the Parents and Shrek; TV shows “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live,” “King of Queens,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Frasier,” “George Lopez” and “Cheers”; dramas “Law & Order: SVU,” “Downton Abbey,” “Yellowstone,” “Friday Night Lights,” “House,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Psych,” “Parenthood,” “Monk” and “Heroes”; kids programing including “Curious George,” “Where’s Waldo?” and “Cleopatra in Space,” in addition to Peacock original movies and shows (titles available at premiere yet to be announced).

Follow us on Instagram

“Apple will be a key launch platform for Peacock,” said Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock.

The Peacock app will also feature daily programming highlights from “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Meet the Press,” “Noticias Telemundo,” MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Sports, E! News and “Access Hollywood,” and 75 streaming channels, including clip-based channels like the best Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers comedy sketches, the best sketches from the “SNL” vault, plus news channels from NBC News Now and Sky News, and genre channels like True Crime, Reality Check-In and 80s Mix Tape.

Last month, Peacock rolled out early access to eligible Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex customers. Peacock will also be bundled and included at no additional cost for eligible Cox Contour customers later this year.

NBCUniversal’s Jeff Shell: ‘Not Realistic’ to Ignore PVOD

After setting off an industry firestorm saying Universal Pictures would pursue a movie-release strategy combining theatrical and premium video-on-demand, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell doubled down on his previous comments to The Wall Street Journal after Universal Pictures animated feature film, Trolls World Tour, generated $100 million in PVOD sales.

Speaking April 29 on the Comcast fiscal call, Shell said PVOD would continue as a “complementary offer” to consumers when theaters re-open to the public — and consumers attend.

He said the Trolls had been primed and marketed for a March 20 theatrical bow, and when the coronavirus shut down theaters, going direct-to-consumer on April 10 with a “desperately” needed children’s title during the pandemic was the only option.

“The majority of our movies, whether we like it or not, are being consumed at home,” Shell said. “It’s not realistic to assume that we’re not going to change, that this part of the business isn’t going to change like all parts of the business are going to change.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The executive said it remains to be seen what the distribution model will look like post-COVID-19. While he expects a gradual return to the cineplex, which he said Universal would be part of, he also expects PVOD to be a part of the business model.

“[PVOD is] not a replacement,” Shell said. “We’re just going to have to see how long [a return to theatrical] takes and where it takes us.”

AMC Theatres, trade group National Association of Theatre Owners and Regal Cinemas have blasted Universal for pledging to bypass the traditional 90-day theatrical window. Both exhibitors have said they would not distribute any Universal — or other studio — title earmarked for simultaneous in-home digital release.

Follow us on Instagram

With the exception of Georgia and Texas, movie theaters in most states remain shuttered due to the coronavirus. The industry and studios are projected to lose billions in box office revenue to the shutdowns.

Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh said future PVOD releases would be determined on a “title-by-title” basis.

NBCUniversal Bows Peacock Streaming Service to Comcast Xfinity/Flex Subs on April 15; Possible Expedited Nationwide Launch

NBCUniversal April 15 begins offering its branded Peacock streaming service to Comcast Cable Xfinity/Flex subscribers. Programming will include catalog TV shows and movies, including former NBC standouts, “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock” and “Law & Order: SVU,” the entire “Saturday Night Live” catalog, and Universal Pictures movies Jurassic Park, E.T. and Schindler’s List, among others.

The Peacock app will be available with the nationwide, which could be moved up from its previously announced July 15 date, Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock (and former Media Play News “Digital Driver”) April 14 told a media conference call.

Peacock Premium will be available for free to Comcast pay-TV subscribers; $4.99 monthly with ads to non-subs; and $7.99 with out commercials.

Strauss said NBCUniversal is “evaluating” moving up the launch date with millions of Americans quarantined in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The SVOD/AVOD platform was expected to play a major role in NBC’s 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics coverage — plans that were turned upside down when the quadrennial event was pushed by to 2021.

“We feel even more strongly we need to bring Peacock as quickly to market as possible,” Strauss said.

Matt Strauss

The longtime Comcast executive said Peacock originals, including “Brave New World,” an update of “Saved By the Bell,” with original cast members Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez, among others, would be available on the platform later this year or in 2021.

Peacock Free will include 7,500 hours of content, including next-day access to current NBC TV series.

Peacock Premium showcases 15,000 hours of content, in addition to early access (by 3 1/2 hours) to “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

 

Head of Hulu Ad Sales Departs for Snap

Peter Naylor

Snap Inc. April 9 named Peter Naylor VP of Americas, spearheading business operations for social media platform Snapchat and other properties in North America and Mexico.

Naylor, a former Media Play News Digital Driver, most recently led advertising sales at Hulu. He reports to former Amazon Prime Video head of sales Jeremi Gorman in New York.

Naylor spent six years at Hulu, joining the SVOD when it was co-owned by NBCUniversal parent Comcast. He was EVP of digital sales at NBCU.

In 2018, Naylor helped make select Hulu content available for download, enabling subscribers to watch content offline — an industry first.

“With downloadable content, we’re offering brands more ways to connect with engaged viewers who love the experience of watching television, wherever they may be,” Naylor said at the time.

Follow us on Instagram

Naylor is the second executive to leave Hulu after CEO Randy Freer departed following Disney’s consolidation last May as sole corporate owner. Hulu’s ad sales are now headed by Rita Ferro, Disney’s president of advertising sales, while former Hulu CMO Kelly Campbell was promoted to president of the SVOD.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

WarnerMedia Latest to Establish $100M Employee Virus Relief Fund

WarnerMedia has joined a number of entertainment companies  creating funds for employees and related staff affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The parent to Warner Bros., HBO and Turner, set up a $100 million fund to assist production workers and others idled by the shutdown in Hollywood.

“We are stepping up with a commitment of more than $100 million to assist team members of those productions during this time. And as things evolve, we’ll continue to evaluate how we can best respond to the challenges we face as an industry as a result of this pandemic,” CEO John Stankey said in a March 27 memo to staff, as first reported by Variety.

Follow us on Instagram

The move follows similar actions taken by Netflix ($100 million), NBCUniversal ($150 million) and others in the entertainment industry, citing concern for the “health and safety of employees, cast, crew and community” as a virtual shutdown of productions and theater closings has ground most aspects of the ecosystem to a halt.

The National Association of Theatre Owners previously pledged $1 million to a fund to assist laid-off theater workers. Actor Ryan Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, are donating $1 million to food banks in the U.S. and Canada, while New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife donated $5 million to coronavirus aid groups in Louisiana.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — which represents more than 150,000 members employed in stagecraft, motion picture and television production — earlier this month pledged a combined $2.5 million to the Actors Fund, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, and the Actors Fund of Canada.

“These charities have been assisting and supporting IATSE members and entertainment industry workers for a very long time,” Matthew D. Loeb, international president of IATSE, said in a statement. “They understand the needs of these workers and are perfectly situated to act as our partners to help those experiencing hardship caused by the current health crisis.”

NBCUniversal Bows $150 Million Employee Fund as CEO Jeff Shell Says He Has the Coronavirus

NBCUniversal has created a $150 million fund for employees, production personnel and amusement staff impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement by CEO Jeff Shell included his admission to being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Shell wrote in a staff memo. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in L.A. and am improving every day.”

Shell, who assumed the senior executive position following the retirement of Steve Burke, paid tribute to Larry Edgeworth, an audio technician at NBC News, who passed away due to complications from the virus.

Follow us on Instagram

“Our hearts go out to his family, friends and co-workers,” Shell wrote.

The news comes as NBCUniversal’s marquee primetime event, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, have been postponed to 2021, resulting in a $1.2 billion ad-revenue hit. The company’s Peacock subscription service remains on schedule to launch in April.

With the delays and postponements, 2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for NBCUniversal, which is opening a new theme park in Beijing, followed by the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Winter Olympics, the Super Bowl and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“We will have the return of our tentpole films like F9 and Minions: The Rise Of Gru, and an avalanche of new TV shows,” Shell wrote. “The present may be challenging, but it is impossible not to feel optimistic about the future.”

Comcast Expecting ‘Material Adverse’ Impact on Business

With its amusement parks business shuttered, Hollywood movies on hiatus and Olympics coverage postponed, Comcast issued a warning to investors that its myriad business segments could have “material adverse” impact in the short-term — including the first quarter ending March 31.

The warning mirrors what The Walt Disney Co. is going through, with some observers speculating Bob Iger’s sudden decision to hand over CEO duties to Bob Chapek revolved largely around his realization of what was in store financially for the Mouse House.

Follow us on Instagram

Comcast Treasurer William Dordelman, in the filing, said the company has closed all theme parks, and delayed Universal Pictures’ distribution of films both domestically and internationally, in addition to the disruption in production and availability of movies and television programming in the United States and globally, postponement of sports events, including the Olympics, and suspension of entertainment content production.

Dordelman said the global situation will “materially exacerbate” Sky’s previously deteriorating economic environment and advertising market in the U.K. and Europe.

“Our Comcast Cable business, while our network performs well to meet the challenge of business and schooling from home, will not be unaffected either as economic stress impacts our residential and business services customer base,” he wrote.

The CFO expects the “ultimate significance” of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses will vary, but will generally depend on the extent of governmental measures affecting day to day life and the length of time that such measures remain in place to respond to the virus.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Dordelman said it is impossible to predict the extent and duration and the degree to which supply and demand for Comcast products and services, including advertising, will be affected.

“This uncertainty makes it challenging for management to estimate the future performance of our businesses, particularly over the near to medium term. However, the impact of COVID-19 could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations over the near to medium term,” he wrote.

IOC Official: 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Likely Postponed

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, arguably the biggest media sporting event of the year, will be postponed likely to next year, according to an IOC official.

IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today March 23 the Games, which are slated for July 24 to Aug. 9, probably won’t happen until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.

Japan has more than 1,800 COVID-19 cases, including cases originating aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The modern Summer Olympics have been held consecutively every four year since 1896 — except during World War I and World War II (1916, 1940, 1944).

Follow us on Instagram

Although the IOC has made no official announcement, there have been growing calls from countries’ Olympic committees to postpone the event due to athletes’ concerns. Canada and Australia both announced they would not be sending athletes due to the pandemic that has claimed more than 15,000 lives and infected more than 350,000, according to the World Health Organization. Johns Hopkins University said more than 100,000 of the infected have survived.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who until last weekend stressed the Games would go on as scheduled, began to change his mind as the pandemic expands.

“This decision by IOC is in line with what I have said, about holding the games in their entirety,” Abe told lawmakers over the weekend. “In case this becomes difficult, in order to make the athletes our top priority, we may have no choice but to decide to postpone the Games.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The delay is a huge blow to Japan and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, which have poured tens of billions of dollars into staging the event, not including billions more spent on marketing and advertising.

Organizers haven’t commented on the status of the traditional Olympic torch relay, which is slated to start March 26 (without spectators) in the northern part of the country.

Comcast, which has spent billions securing exclusive U.S. broadcast and streaming rights for NBCUniversal to the Games, stands to lose about $1.2 billion in advertising. CEO Brian Roberts has said the company has insurance should the Games be canceled.

NBC Sports plans to stream the games across several of its networks.

Honoring Eddie — and Hollywood

Eddie Cunningham, in the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt, speaks softly and carries a big stick.

Honored with Media Play News’ third annual Fast Toward Award, Cunningham is the consummate gentleman, both inside and outside of the workplace. Without exception, his employees say he’s a remarkable boss, even-tempered and empowering, encouraging them to do their best and making them want to do their best.

He’s instilled in them a belief that what they do each day in the office truly matters, that they are an essential cog in the wheel, so to speak. Leading by example, you get the feeling that Eddie Cunningham truly loves our industry as well as his company, and that loyalty and reliability are two of his most important traits.

The last time we met for lunch, at the Grill on the Universal Studios lot, he brought a bag of toys for my year-old granddaughter.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

A while back, at CES, we happened to share an elevator. Eddie Cunningham was the last person out, holding the door for nearly a dozen other people.

Now that he’s been tapped to lead a joint venture between Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. that, pending regulatory approval, will market and distribute Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and 4K Ultra HD discs in the United States and Canada from both studios, beginning in early 2021, Cunningham also is leading the charge to ensure the continued viability, and profitability, of the physical disc.

It’s a big opportunity, and a big challenge, as well. Disc sales have been declining, and with the whole world so enamored with streaming, we as an industry need to do what we can to prop up the transactional business – which despite impressive growth rates on the digital side remains tethered to physical media.

Follow us on Twitter!

As Cunningham says in this month’s feature, “Discs, alongside electronic sellthrough, are usually the first opportunity to own a film after its run in theaters, with the movie often not being available on SVOD for years. [And] if you want the highest quality picture and sound, disc is still the best way to get that in the home.”

The physical disc is not only the primary into-the-home distribution mechanism for new movies fresh off their theatrical runs. It also remains the best way to preserve, honor and capitalize on Hollywood’s rich cinematic history.

The proliferating streaming services are so focused on original content that older films are hard to find. The theatrical catalog titles we used to enjoy, and which formed the basis for DVD collecting two decades ago, are pretty much out of everyone’s consciousness.

I know from my own experience that whereas in the past I would regularly watch an old classic or two each week, for the last few years I have been so consumed by Netflix series such as “Ozark,” “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” that I didn’t have time for much more than the latest theatrical hit.

Follow us on Instagram!

Only since my holiday from streaming began last December have I been watching old movies again on Blu-ray Disc.

That’s why I applaud Paramount Home Entertainment’s launch of a new “Paramount Presents” label to recognize and celebrate films from the studio’s library. As division president Bob Buchi said, “Paramount’s library represents over a century of filmmaking and includes some of the greatest films in cinematic history. We look forward to opening the vault and sharing some of our most treasured films with fans.”

 

Sky Selling Theatrical Releases in the Home

With the shutdown of theatres worldwide, satellite TV operator Sky has begun offering digital video access to select theatrical releases in the home. The move is the latest among media companies upending traditional distribution channels as consumers face quarantine situations against the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sky, which is owned by Comcast, parent of NBCUniversal, has 24 million customers across seven countries in Europe. It is following a strategy taken by Universal Pictures in the United States, which has begun offering digital retail access to select theatrical movies.

Follow us on Instagram

Sky Store will have a range of NBCU titles available the same day as their global cinema release. They will be priced at £15.99 ($18.99). This is available for Sky+ and Sky Q subscribers. Sky Store digital sales typically include a DVD backup sent in the mail.

The program begins with DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour April 6. This is the first time customers have been able to rent NBCUniversal movies as soon as they hit cinemas. On March 20, The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Emma will also be available on-demand on Sky Store, following their recent release in cinemas.

“We’re working hard at Sky to make sure we continue to look after our customers,” Stephen van Rooyen, EVP & CEO of Sky UK and Europe, said in a statement. “We’re also introducing some things to help make life a little easier for anyone at home trying to work, stay connected to loved ones, or keep the family entertained.”

During the ongoing pandemic, Sky will also make it “Go Extra” platform available free to all customers so European households have access to Sky TV on three screens at the same time. Calls to U.K. landlines any time of day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers through the end of April.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Sky Mobile subscribers will get an extra 10GB data free added to their accounts. Call centers and engineers will prioritize the needs of existing customers to ensure their service keeps running smoothly.

Premium platform Sky Q will soon add over-the-top video platform Disney+ (March 24), in addition to YouTube Kids.