Deeper Dive—What to expect from Comcast’s Peacock investor day

Comcast has been careful to say that it won’t stop selling its shows just because it’s launching its own streaming service. (Comcast/NBCUniversal)

Comcast/NBCUniversal is planning an investor day on January 16 to discuss details about its upcoming streaming service, Peacock.

It’s a pre-launch strategy that has been deployed recently by peers including Disney and WarnerMedia along with Apple. Comcast is following suit, but the company was vague in its announcement of the meeting, saying only that it will address the “overarching strategy for the platform.”

The investor day for Peacock is still more than a month away and it’s unclear how much of the information will still be new at that point given that NBCU’s keynote at CES on Jan. 8 will likely feature some discussion of Peacock. However, there are certain details that are reasonable to expect out of the presentation.

A price

In January, Comcast announced its intentions to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service. The company said its ad-supported service will be available at no cost to NBCUniversal’s pay TV subscribers in the U.S. and major international markets, and that Comcast Cable and Sky will provide the service to their 52 million subscribers. An ad-free version will also be available for a fee and non-pay TV customers can purchase a subscription to the service.

Comcast may decide to charge similar rates at Hulu, which sells both an ad-free service and a less expensive ad-supported service. Hulu charges $5.99/month for its service with ads and $11.99/month for its service with no ads. CBS All Access, another hybrid AVOD/SVOD service, charges $5.99/month for its service with limited commercials and $9.99/month for its ad-free service.

However, a recent report from CNBC suggested that NBCUniversal may just decide to make Peacock free for everyone and be content to sit back and collect advertising revenue.

A date

Right now, the launch date for Peacock is April 2020. At the investor meeting, Comcast is likely to put a finer point on it. Quibi, a short-form subscription video service tailored for mobile consumption, is launching April 6, 2020. So, don’t expect Peacock to arrive on the same day. WarnerMedia’s HBO Max is scheduled to arrive in May 2020. So, don’t expect Peacock to get pushed back since Comcast would likely prefer to avoid the noise around that launch.

Do expect, however, that Comcast will pick a day to help build anticipation.

A strategy

Comcast is likely to trot out some stars and trailers for its Peacock originals, talk up its plans around the 2020 Summer Olympics and discuss plans for the amount and types of advertising users can expect to see on the platform.

However, the primary purpose of the Peacock investor meeting will be convincing Comcast/NBCU investors that this service is a good idea and that it will make money.

Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst at TV[R]EV, said one of the biggest details that could emerge from the meeting will be whether Comcast decides to go hybrid AVOD/SVOD or totally ad-supported.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they look at the success of something like Pluto and decide to do something like that,” Wolk said.

Pluto TV, which is now part of the newly merged ViacomCBS, could indeed be an inspiration for Comcast’s strategy with Peacock. Wolk said the company is likely watching ViacomCBS’ next steps. ViacomCBS could stick to the studio model and keep all its individual streaming services while still collecting some licensing revenue, said Wolk, or it could consolidate all its available IP into one massive direct-to-consumer offering.

From the beginning, though, Comcast has been careful to say that it won’t stop selling its shows just because it’s launching its own streaming service.

“Consistent with the company’s long-standing strategy to distribute its content broadly, NBCUniversal will continue to license content to other studios and platforms, while retaining rights to certain titles for its new service,” Comcast said back in January. With both Disney and WarnerMedia pulling back so much of their content for their subscription streaming services, there are lots of opportunities to collect licensing revenue.