Peacock Announces First Originals for July 15 Launch

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, May 14 announced its first original content slate that will be available on July 15 when the service launches nationally.

Peacock Premium ($9.99) subscribers can stream all first season episodes of “Brave New World,” “The Capture,” “Intelligence” and “Lost Speedways”; sports documentary “In Deep With Ryan Lochte”; and the entire full-length film Psych 2: Lassie Come Home.

Additionally, Peacock Kids will stream new episodes of “Curious George” and two original series from DreamWorks Animation: “Cleopatra in Space” and “Where’s Waldo?” Premiere dates for future Peacock Originals and exclusive content will be announced later this year.

“Our variety of Peacock Originals at launch demonstrates how we deliver timely and timeless content — no matter the genre or format,” Bill McGoldrick, president of original content, said in a statement.

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Based on Aldous Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World” imagines a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family, and history itself. The show stars Harry Lloyd (“Game of Thrones,” “The Theory of Everything”) and Jessica Brown Findlay, (Winter’s Tale, “Downton Abbey”), among others.

“The Capture” is a conspiracy thriller that looks at a troubling world of fake news and the extraordinary capabilities of the intelligence services. When soldier Shaun Emery’s (“Callum Turner,” “War & Peace,” Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) conviction for a murder in Afghanistan is overturned due to flawed video evidence, he returns to life as a free man with his young daughter. But when damning CCTV footage from a night out in London comes to light, Shaun’s life takes a shocking turn and he must soon fight for his freedom once again.

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The series stars Rachel Carey (“Holliday Grainger,” “Strike,” “Patrick Melrose”), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, “Hand of God”), Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken), Ben Miles (“The Crown,” “Coupling”) and Laura Haddock (Transformers: The Last Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy), among others.

“Intelligence” is a workplace comedy set in the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters — a kind of weedier, geekier, more bureaucratic version of MI5 and MI6, where they tackle international and domestic Cyber Crime from a desktop. It stars David Schwimmer (“Friends”) and Nick Mohammed (The Martian, Christopher Robin) in a power grab that threatens to disrupt the team’s ability to combat cyber terrorism.

In Psych 2: Lassie  Come Home, Santa Barbara Police Chief Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson (“This Is Us”) is ambushed on the job and left for dead. In a vintage “Psych”-style Hitchcockian nod, he begins to see impossible happenings around his recovery clinic. Co-stars include James Roday (Psych) and Dulé Hill (Psych).

In addition to current season programming from NBC and Telemundo, Peacock customers will have access to hundreds of Universal movies like the Jurassic Park franchise, E.T., Meet the Parents and Shrek, among others.

In July, viewers can watch at peacocktv.com or across mobile and connected TV platforms with the Peacock app.

Xfinity Flex Surpasses 1 Million Devices Deployed

Comcast May 14 announced it has deployed more than 1 million Xfinity Flex devices since the unit’s launch last year. Included with Xfinity Internet (broadband) for free, the device leverages Xfinity X1 technology to deliver video to high-speed Internet-only (non-pay-TV) subscribers.

Dana Strong, president, Xfinity consumer services, said the platform combines access to 200 third-party streaming services such as Peacock, Hulu, CBS All Access, Radio.com and Black News Channel. These services join Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, HBO Now, YouTube, Epix, Starz and Pandora. Flex also affords subs access to AVOD services such as NBCUniversal’s Xumo, Tubi and Pluto TV.

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“Flex was designed to fit seamlessly into the lives of our Internet-only customers,” Strong said.

Last month, NBCU previewed Peacock to Flex subs. Peacock Premium is now available to Xfinity X1 and Flex customers at no extra cost. The service offers over 15,000 hours of shows and movies, and Flex customers can simply say “Peacock” into their voice remote to explore iconic shows and movies, NBC favorites, plus trending news and pop culture updated daily.

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Peacock to Be Available on Microsoft Xbox One Devices

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, will be available on Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X, when it launches nationally July 15.

Peacock will offer 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, featuring more than 15,000 hours of content. Viewers may also upgrade Peacock Premium to ad-free for an additional $5 per month.

“We are pleased to make Peacock available to the millions of customers who access content across Xbox platforms,” Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships for Peacock, said in a statement. “With streaming entertainment and gaming reaching all-time highs, Xbox will be a great ongoing partner for Peacock.”

When it launches in July, Peacock will be available for Xbox users to download through the Microsoft Store. Customers will be able to sign up for Peacock Free or upgrade to Peacock Premium directly within the Peacock app on Xbox devices using in-app purchase.

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“We look forward to working with Microsoft, bringing Peacock to the Xbox platform and expanding the growing options people have to access our content at national launch,” Matt Bond, chairman, content distribution, NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

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

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.

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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.

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“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).

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“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.

HBO Max Offering 20% Discount on Subscription Pre-Orders

WarnerMedia is offering a 20% discount to new subscribers who preorder the HBO Max subscription streaming service before its May 27 launch date. The $11.99 discounted price is less than Netflix’s standard plan for new subs.

WarnerMedia has a lot riding on the launch of the platform — especially during a pandemic. The former Time Warner company has inked distribution deals with Charter Communication and Hulu, in addition to offering free access service to existing HBO Now and HBO Go users.

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The promotion is good for a year and then automatically increases to the standard $14.99 plan unless canceled. Discounted Max is less expensive than a HBO Now subscription, except that Now subs get automatic access to Max when it launches.

Details of the promotion include having to sign up for Max through the platform’s website and not a third-party service such as Roku, Apple TV Channels, Amazon Channels or Google Play. HBO Now subs on Apple TV and Google Play get free Max upgrades — at the standard $14.99 price.

The discount underscores the reality Max is the most expensive SVOD service in a crowded over-the-top ecosystem. By comparison,  Apple TV Plus is $4.99 monthly, Disney Plus ($6.99), Quibi ($7.99 without ads), Amazon Prime Video ($8.99 a month), NBCUniversal’s Peacock ($9.99 without ads), CBS All Access ($9.99 no ads), Hulu ($11.99 without ads).

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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.”

 

Streaming Services Have Home Field Advantage

With the increased calls for Americans to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, many see home entertainment — especially streaming services — as a big winner. Indeed, consumers confined to their homes may give the industry a boost, but not all streaming services are equal.

Netflix, which has pretty much maxed out its U.S. subscriptions, may not necessarily benefit monetarily, as subs pay a monthly fee that doesn’t go up with increased viewing.

New and pending SVOD services, however, seem to be poised to benefit. Disney+ is approaching 30 million domestic subs, according to exiting CEO Bob Iger, and its growth may help off-set the hit taken by the Walt Disney Co., headed up by new CEO (and home entertainment alum) Bob Chapek, as its theme parks close during outbreaks. The service will launch in Europe March 24, where social distancing is taking hold as well, perhaps giving Disney+ a boost abroad. Indeed, the studio has ramped up SVOD efforts domestically and internationally. Chapek announced that hit Frozen II would be available on the service March 15 in the United States and March 17 in certain international territories — three months early. Ahead of the impending launch in Europe, the media giant has rolled out promotional offers with mobile carriers T-Mobile and O2 in Germany and the United Kingdom, respectively.

Meanwhile, HBO Max, coming in May, and Comcast’s Peacock, which launches April 15, it seems couldn’t have picked a better time to enter people’s homes.

Another big winner may be free ad-supported services such as ViacomCBS-owned Pluto TV, Xumo (newly aquired by Comcast) and Tubi (rumored to be a Fox acquisition target). In-home captive audiences will be a ripe target for their advertising and easily accessible free VOD content.

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While industry events, theme parks and productions may be taking a hit, home entertainment seems poised to increase its audience.

Comcast’s Flex Platform Adds Hulu, CBS All Access, Starz

Comcast’s Xfinity Flex is a free (i.e. ad-supported) platform and set-top device that affords broadband-only subscribers access to premium content, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, HBO, Showtime and more than 10,000 movies on demand.

Flex was launched to counter ongoing declines in linear pay-TV as consumers migrate to over-the-top video, which requires broadband connectivity. Comcast is one of the largest ISPs in the country, adding around 1.4 million broadband subscribers in 2019.

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While much of the media attention revolves around the cloud-based Xfinity X1 set-top and the April 15 launch of NBCUniversal’s subscription streaming video service Peacock, Flex has quietly gained momentum, according to Comcast Corp. chairman Brian Roberts.

Speaking this week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Roberts said Flex enables the company to secure cord-cutters migrating to third-party services.

“Half of all our sales last year, give or take, were broadband only,” Roberts said. “So we want to give them a road map to consume video, to have lower churn, to have higher advertising and, ultimately, have a better experience with our company and perhaps buy X1 and more video products.”

The concept quickly gained traction, forcing Comcast to scale back Flex as it ran out of Xfinity set-top devices (similar to Roku devices) last fall. The platform just added additional content options, including CBS All Access, Starz and Hulu, which Comcast last year sold its 30% stake in to Disney for a reported $5.8 billion.

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Flex will also feature Peacock and about 100 other third-party apps. Roberts said it costs Comcast about $50 per Flex sub, which the executive considers a long-term investment.

“They now have our X1 [device] or any service we might dream up in the next 50 years,” he said. “It’s early days, but I can tell you, we put out more Flexes than we’ve lost video [subs],” he said.

 

AMC Networks Inks Content Deal With NBCUniversal’s Peacock Streaming Service

AMC Networks continues to expand distribution beyond the pay-TV ecosystem. The home to “The Walking Dead,” and “Better Call Saul,” among others, signed a deal for reality-TV programming with Comcast’s pending Peacock streaming video platform.

Under the agreement, Peacock — which launches to Xfinity subs on April 15, nationwide in July — gets series such as “Cold Case Files,” “First 48,” “Storage Wars,” “American Pickers,” “Ancient Aliens,” “Curse of Oak Island,” and “Pawn Stars” in addition to History’s scripted drama “Project Blue Book.”

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“In addition to the strong portfolio of NBCUniversal programming available on Peacock, we continue to aggregate content from other networks and studios, like A&E and HISTORY, that maximizes the breadth and depth of choice for our customers,” Frances Manfredi, president, content acquisition and strategy, Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, said in a statement.

Peacock will launch with an ad-supported option, in addition to a Premium channel free to Comcast and Cox Communications subscriber. The latter will cost $4.99 monthly with ads; $9.99 without to other third-party pay-TV subs.

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“We strongly believe in the power of the A+E Networks’ library of content, and that it will prove to strengthen Peacock’s offerings,” said Steve MacDonald, president, global content licensing and international, A+E Networks.

When it launches, Peacock will have live sports (i.e. 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics) and news from NBC News and Sky News in the United Kingdom, in addition to scripted and non-scripted programming.

The service will also have access to Premier League soccer in the United Kingdom, and Ryder Cup golf.

AMC Networks earlier this week signed a distribution deal with Dish Network and the Sling TV subsidiary.

 

Roku CEO Takes Credit for Disney Reaching 26.5 Million Streaming Subs

Disney said it generated 10 million Disney+ subscribers in the first 24 hours of launching — largely through its app. How it reached 26.5 million subs just six weeks later, well, Roku would like to take some credit for that milestone.

Speaking on a Feb. 13 earnings call, Roku founder/CEO Anthony Wood told analysts that with the company’s signature streaming media device ranked No. 1 (by Parks Associates) in the domestic market, having access to the Disney+ app on its platform help jump start subscriptions.

“One of the things Disney did, is they really lean into the tools that we have available on our platform,” Wood said. “And when companies do that, I mean, we’ve built a lot of great ways to sign up subscribers. So, I think we were an important part of them reaching that milestone.”

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Wood, who contends half of all domestic pay-TV subs will cut the cord by 2024, doesn’t see linear TV distributors such as Comcast entering the over-the-top video market as a threat.

“We have the Xfinity app on Roku,” he said. “And I have it on my Roku, and that’s what I use to watch TV sometimes. [But] we just don’t see competing with traditional cable distributors, it’s a big part of our [OTT] competitive dynamic.”

Wood said the pending rollout of the Peacock streaming service by NBC Universal would likely give Roku an additional third-party app to market — although no official agreement has been reached.

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Roku monetizes its platform on a revenue-sharing basis for third-party SVOD services and splits ad-revenue for AVOD platforms. The company said it made $23.14 per user in 2019 — up $5.19 per user in 2018.

“We’re an essential partner for any streaming services trying to build a national audience in United States,” he said. “So, I think it would be natural to assume that there will be some sort of [Peacock] deal down the road.”