Comcast Pumping $2 Billion into Peacock Streaming Service

Comcast’s NBC Universal business unit next year launches Peacock, a branded subscription and ad-supported streaming video platform.

Peacock will be available for free (with ads) to Xfinity subscribers and for a fee to non-pay-TV subs.

Speaking Dec. 9 at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City, Mike Cavanagh, CFO of Comcast Corp., disclosed that the media company plans to spend upwards of $2 billion on original content and marketing over the first two years for the streaming service.

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Cavanagh said spending on Peacock would peak at 1% of Comcast revenue with the goal of breaking even within five years.

“We think we have a special opportunity [with Peacock],” Cavanagh said. “Clearly, advertising are going to be looking in this world for opportunities to reach new audiences.”

He said Comcast is replicating “the same mindset” it applied to launching Xfinity Mobile, the telecommunications business Cavanagh said it projected to break even by 2021.

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Comcast is holding an investor day event for Peacock on Jan. 16, 2020.


Comcast to Discuss ‘Peacock’ Streaming Service Jan. 16

Comcast Corp. Dec. 4 announced it would host an investor event on Jan. 16, 2020 to discuss NBCUniversal’s plans for its new Peacock streaming service, including the overarching strategy for the platform.

The service will be both ad-supported and subscription-based for Xfinity and non-pay-TV subscribers. It marks NBCUniversal’s first proprietary branded over-the-top video platform after years of largely ignoring streaming video in favor of the pay-TV business model.

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With the rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, which Comcast owned a stake in, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke reversed longstanding indifference to OTT video after competitors WarnerMedia, AT&T, Apple and Disney launched proprietary platforms.

The meeting will be webcast live on at and a replay will be available shortly after the event concludes.

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Study: New SVOD Players to Challenge Netflix, YouTube Viewing Domination

The reign of Netflix and YouTube as top online video destinations globally is under threat from a new group of over-the-top platforms such as Disney+ and Apple TV+.

With HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock launching next year, global OTT video viewership will be fragmented further, according to new data from eMarketer.

The venerable dotcom research firm said Netflix in 2018 topped YouTube as the most-watched video service, with average daily consumption reaching 23.2 minutes compared to 22.3 minutes for YouTube.

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eMarketer claims, beginning in 2020, Netflix’s daily video consumption will decline from a peak of 27% to 25.7% by 2021. YouTube’s daily digital video time will drop from 23.4% to 21.7%.

“Even though Americans are spending more time watching Netflix, people’s attention will become more divided as new streamers emerge,” analyst Ross Benes said in statement. “The video streaming landscape will get crowded, which will drive down the share of time that people devote to Netflix.”

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While increased competition may impact Netflix’s global ranking, usage among its subscribers is projected to increase, according to eMarketer. Average daily Netflix viewing time among adult users is projected to increase 2.2% to 56.6 minutes per day in 2020.

2019 was the first year digital video topped 25.4% of users’ total digital consumption, which includes time spent on apps and surfing the Web, but excludes social media.

“Video streaming is a mainstream, daily routine for most U.S. adults, occurring on all devices and increasingly when viewers are on the go,” added analyst Oscar Orozco said. “In fact, an April 2019 study from OpenX found that nearly one-third of users of subscription streaming platforms say screen size has no impact on what they watch or for how long. Because of this, video will continue to be the main driver of digital media consumption in the coming years.”

Netflix Movie Catalog Down 40% Since 2014

Netflix’s catalog of feature-length movies is shrinking. The SVOD behemoth had 40% fewer movies (2,600 titles) to stream in November than it did during the same month five years ago.

As major studios pull back content for proprietary distribution and Netflix greenlights original feature-length titles, the service had 3,848 movies to stream as of Nov. 20. That compared to 6,494 titles in March 2014, according to new data from Streaming Observer.

NBC Universal, Fox, WarnerMedia, and Disney all continue to pull content from Netflix to underline their own streaming service ambitions.

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While Netflix’s domestic movie offerings have been in decline, the tally meets or exceeds the service’s feature-film catalog in its foreign regions:

Australia – 3,480
Canada – 3,844
Germany – 2,704
India – 3,515
Japan – 3,046
Mexico – 2,839
New Zealand – 3,436
United Kingdom – 3,710

Streaming Observer cites growing competition in the SVOD market for the movie drain. Until recently, just Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu had the resources to license movies from studios — with Netflix outbidding the others for premium titles (i.e. landmark Disney deal).

Now with Disney+, NBC’s Peacock, HBO Max and Hulu in or entering the OTT market, their studio parents continue to pull movies from Netflix and compete with it for any available properties.

As a result, Netflix has shifted its focus to developing proprietary movies and TV series rather than licensing outside content, spending billions over the last several years in the process.

While Netflix has significantly upped spending on original movies, production not surprisingly fails to match combined Hollywood output. The opposite is true for TV shows. Netflix has actually rebuilt its TV show library over the past few years from 1,197 shows in 2016 to 1,784 titles today.

As Planet Earth Turns to Streaming Video, ViacomCBS Aims for Pluto (TV)

Prior to Viacom’s re-merger with CBS Corp., the media giant had scant over-the-top video properties. Now with the addition of CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, the company claims about 16 million paying subscription streaming subscribers.

That’s 20% less than the 20 million monthly viewers who stream content for free on Pluto TV — the San Francisco-based ad-supported VOD service Viacom acquired earlier this year for $340 million.

That user tally reflects a 70% year-over-year gain in consumer traction for Pluto and underscores Viacom’s strategic move to compete against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and other high-profile SVOD services with old-school ad-supported content.

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“Our focus on an investment in Pluto is evident,” Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, said on the recent fiscal call. “In Q4 alone, Pluto launched 43 new channels and last month, Pluto Latino added 11 new channels given the platform of total 22 channels with over 4,000 hours of Spanish and Portuguese language programming.”

The opportunity for Pluto TV Latino is significant given the size of the Hispanic population, as well as gaps within the existing programming landscape. As the largest minority market, the group has a combined buying power of $1.5 trillion, according to research from the University of Georgia.

The once-dominant Spanish-language broadcast network, Univision, has been steadily losing viewers for years and has been locked in a battle with Comcast-owned Telemundo for younger, bilingual viewers. Meanwhile, streaming services such as Hulu, Sling, and fuboTV offer Spanish-language content, but the additional cost of these services is leading to “subscription fatigue.”

“There are all sorts of creative programming ideas we can test with the audience that hasn’t been done before,” Tom Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Pluto TV, said. “If they work, we can be nimble and double down on them.”

Indeed, AVOD revenue is projected to more than double between 2018 and 2024, topping $56 billion across 138 countries — including the U.S.

Next year, NBC Universal is launching an ad-supported streaming service dubbed “Peacock,” which joins industry players such Tubi TV, which bowed in 2014 with more than 9,000 movies and television shows, Amazon’s IMDb TV and The Roku Channel, among others.

“The U.S. will more than triple its AVOD revenue total between 2018 and 2024 to $19.23 billion — or 34% of the global total,” said Simon Murray, analyst with Digital TV Research.

Bakish said Viacom would continue to grow Pluto TV distribution globally and on new platforms, which he said would benefit both viewers and business partners.

He said Pluto has not only been a driver to restoring overall Viacom ad sales growth, it’s also been a platform to enable Viacom to “radically” increase the number of clients it does business with.

“In the crowded subscription universe, as consumers become increasingly more value conscious, we strongly believe that having the leading free streaming service in the country and over time, the world is a huge competitive advantage,” Bakish said.


Study: Consumers Worried About Too Much Choice, Increased Cost Amid Streaming Wars

As the subscription streaming wars heat up, most people (70%) believe that there will be too many streaming choices, and 87% worry it will become too expensive to keep up, according to a new study.

TV Time, an online tracking platform for TV and movie viewership, along with UTA IQ, UTA’s data and analytics group, conducted the study, “Beyond the Big Three,” to understand consumer sentiment surrounding the new streaming media landscape. The study focused on awareness, purchase intent, and the features and offerings that drive, or slow, consumer adoption. Conducted in September 2019, it surveyed 4,816 respondents in the United States and 1,818 total respondents in the Netherlands, Canada and Australia. The U.S. population results were balanced by age and gender (13-54).

Overall, a substantial number of consumers in the study said they intend to add one (42%) or two (20%) new streaming services.

Other key findings were:

  • After cost, the biggest frustrations were the need to toggle between services (67%), account setup and management (58%), and the inability to find content easily (45%).
  • People were willing to accept some form of ad-supported model (44%) compared to a subscription-only model (56%) if advertisements alleviated service cost.
  • Consumers valued library content more than originals. Almost all respondents (90%) characterized it as “important” or “very important.” This compared to 68% who shared the same feeling about originals.


Brand awareness findings included:

  • Disney+ and Apple TV+ had the highest levels of awareness (88% and 63%, respectively) among the upcoming services, followed by HBO Max (37%) and NBCU’s Peacock (28%).
  • Families (57%) were no more or less likely to subscribe to Disney+ than households without children (55%), illustrating the strength of Disney’s adult franchises.
  • Consumers were attracted to most of Disney’s library franchises with Marvel (77%) and Pixar (71%) ranking the highest. “The Mandalorian” followed by Marvel’s “Falcon & Winter Soldier,” “WandaVision,” “Loki,” “Hawkeye” and “She-Hulk” were among the most anticipated Disney+ original shows.
  • The intent to subscribe to AppleTV+ increased by ten percentage points when respondents were told about the type of content and talent involved.


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“In a television landscape that is experiencing such intense disruption, we are seeking to better understand how consumer preferences and attitudes play into it,” said Joe Kessler and David Herrin of UTA IQ in a statement. “It is indeed the Golden Age of Television, in that there are more great shows being made, more competition for eyeballs and ultimately, greater demand for creative talent, than ever before. Research like this helps us look beyond the horizon and make more informed decisions as we work together to navigate these monumental shifts in the marketplace.”

While the study found that Disney+ is currently best positioned for success, it does not appear that the platform will pose a major threat to existing services, as a majority of respondents (70%) indicated they were not “likely” or “very likely” to drop a current service if they subscribed to Disney+.

Subscription intent for Disney+ is somewhat lower outside of the United States, the study found, and varies significantly by country, at 56% in the U.S. compared to 49% in the Netherlands, 42% in Canada and 38% in Australia.

“While Disney+ appears well-positioned to succeed internationally, it may require additional focus in strategic markets to encourage people to subscribe,” said Alex von Krogh, VP of TV Time, in a statement. “It will be important to track how people engage with their programming from a global perspective and how that compares to competitors in those markets.”

Netflix Brass Doubles Down on Indifference to Pending SVOD Competition

With Disney and Apple just weeks away from launching branded subscription streaming video services, Netflix remains defiant to the pending competition, which includes service launches from WarnerMedia (HBO Max) and NBCUniversal (Peacock) early next year.

Speaking on the company’s Oct. 16 fiscal earnings webcast, CCO Ted Sarandos walked back any apparent corporate weakness regarding comments CEO Reed Hastings made in the United Kingdom last month about a whole new world in over-the-top video awaiting come November.

“I think I got the subtlety of the brave — the whole new world Aladdin reference,” Sarandos quipped. “Everyone else took it pretty literal.”

Many on Wall Street had taken Hastings’ comment to suggest Netflix was concerned, especially after HBO Max and Peacock took away Netflix streaming rights to popular reruns of “Seinfeld” and “The Office,” respectively.

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“From when we began in [2007] streaming, Hulu and YouTube and Amazon Prime Video were all in the market,” Hastings said. “All four of us have been competing heavily, including with linear TV, for the last 12 years. So fundamentally, there’s not a big change here.”

Hastings said he found it “interesting” to see both Apple and Disney launching services in the same week after 12 years of not showing much interest in SVOD.

“I was being a little playful with a whole new world in the sense of the drama of it coming,” Hastings added. “But fundamentally, it’s more of the same, and Disney is going to be a great competitor. Apple is just beginning, but they’ll probably have some great shows, too.”

Indeed, until just recently, Disney exclusively licensed original movies and rights to create original Marvel TV series to Netflix.

The Netflix co-founder reiterated that the SVOD market remains more in competition with linear TV than within its market. He said OTT video is still a relatively small player compared to broadcast TV.

“So, just like in the [shareholder] letter … [writing about] multiple cable networks over the last 30 years not really competing with each other fundamentally but competing with broadcast TV, I think it’s the same kind of dynamic here [with streaming video],” Hastings said.


Parks: SVOD Accounts for 86% of Consumer Online Movie, TV Spending

New research from Parks Associates finds that subscriptions, formerly representing just over half of total online video spending in 2012, now account for nearly 86% of all internet spending on TV and movies.

The Dallas-based research follows analysis of market trends and profiles of OTT video service providers in the U.S. and Canada, including Netflix, HBO, YouTube, and Amazon as well as new services Disney+, HBO Max, and Frndly TV.

“The new services launching over the next several months are taking different approaches as they enter a crowded OTT market,” said Brett Sappington, senior research director and principal analyst. “While the U.S. market is important for Disney, the company will ultimately measure the success of its Disney+ service on a global scale.”

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Sappington believes AT&T sees its formerly branded DirecTV Now (now AT&T TV) service as the evolution of its core pay-TV business rather than as an extension of its vMVPD efforts.

The Frndly TV is a niche play Sappington says is targeting a specific group of consumers with a low price and family-friendly content.

Parks says the new services, including Apple TV+, will drive consumers to increase spending on internet video and maximize the proportion of spending on subscriptions. The increasing number of new services will also test consumers’ tolerance for adding new accounts to their monthly expenditures.

“The amount of money consumers spend per month will spike, at least in the short term, as new services such as Disney+ and Apple TV+ become available. Tradeoff decisions will come later,” Sappington said. “To keep consumers spending at this higher level, services will have to consistently deliver volumes of compelling content within an engaging user experience.”

NBC Universal’s Streaming Service Named ‘Peacock,’ Launching April 2020

In a nod to its linear TV legacy, NBC Universal Sept. 17 announced that its forthcoming streaming video service will be named Peacock and launched in April 2020.

“The name Peacock pays homage to the quality content that audiences have come to expect from NBC Universal — whether it’s culture-defining dramas from innovative creators like Sam Esmail, comedies from legends like Lorne Michaels and Mike Schur, blockbusters from Universal Pictures, or buzzy unscripted programming from the people who do it best at Bravo and E!,” Bonnie Hammer, chairman of direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises, said in a statement. “Peacock will be the go-to place for both the timely and timeless — from can’t-miss Olympic moments and the 2020 election, to classic fan favorites like ‘The Office’.”

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The pending service, which will be available to Xfinity subscribers and as a standalone property to non-subs, will showcase catalog series “Battlestar Galactica,” “Saved By the Bell” and “Punky Brewster,” in addition to new series from Mike Schur, Rashida Jones and an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

Other episodic fare includes a docuseries from “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels, a Jimmy Fallon talk show, a late night series with “Late Night’s” Amber Ruffin, and another “Real Housewives” spinoff are also coming to the service.

Library content includes “The Office,” “Parks & Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Cheers” and “Frasier.”