Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming service initially launched in April, has set a distribution deal with Google for its national expansion in July.
Google platforms and devices spanning Android, Android TV and Chromecast will begin carrying Peacock on July 15. Starting then, Peacock will offer a free tier featuring more than 7,500 hours of movies and TV programming. The higher level, Peacock Premium, will have 15,000 hours of content, and Android and Android TV users will get Premium for free until October 15.
After the promotion ends, Peacock Premium subscribers will pay $5 a month, with an option to upgrade to an ad-free tier for another $5 a month.
Peacock’s rollout was always planned as a two-step process, with an early release favoring Comcast subscribers and then a national debut, with the latter initially timed to the Summer Olympics. When COVID-19 forced the postponement of the Tokyo Games until 2021, NBCU decided to stick to its plan, especially with overall streaming surging during coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
The July 15 widening out of Peacock will mark the end of an unprecedented spree of streaming investments, joining new services Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and well-funded start-up Quibi. As with Disney+ and HBO Max, distribution is a crucial aspect to the traction Peacock will be able to get. Disney bundled Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ and also set a key deal with Verizon in the U.S. and other partners internationally. HBO Max also ran the table but has notably not done deals as yet with Roku or Amazon Fire.
NBCU and parent Comcast started in April by offering Peacock as a free service for customers of Comcast Xfinity. Cox, a smaller pay-TV rival, has also been announced as a distribution partner. Steve Burke, who is wrapping his tenure at NBCU this summer, told investors in January when he was still CEO that he was optimistic that other distributors would follow the lead of Cox and welcome Peacock as a way of keeping customers in their ecosystems. That concept has been a guiding principle at Comcast’s Xfinity operation, which has integrated Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and other streaming outlets into its offerings across linear and broadband.
In a press release, Maggie McLean Suniewick, president of business development and partnerships, said Peacock is being offered free to distribution partners, including Google. “We want people everywhere to stream Peacock, and the Peacock Premium promotion demonstrates our commitment to providing incredible value for our mutual customers.”
Advertising, rather than distribution, is the strategic focus for NBCU. Like other media companies, it is managing through a period of dramatic shifts in ad spending and sees Peacock as a way to control its destiny as attention continues to move toward streaming.
Comcast and NBCU have not offered any viewership or download information since the mid-April launch of Peacock, saying only that it has exceeded internal projections.
“As millions of our viewers have already seen the massive benefit of having Peacock available to them these past few months, we look forward to leveraging the unprecedented reach of Google’s platforms and devices, to provide Peacock to even more fans on July 15,” said Matt Bond, Chairman, Content Distribution, NBCU. “Google continues to be a terrific partner as we aim to deliver NBCUniversal’s world class content across all of their platforms and devices.”
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