NBC says Peacock will get to ‘cruising altitude’ faster than competitors

Peacock launches in April 2020. (NBCUniversal)

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said that his company is not deploying the same strategy for Peacock as Netflix and “people chasing Netflix” have adopted.

“We’re primarily working with the existing ecosystem and doing a lot of AVOD activity. What that’s going to do, we think, is cut the investment pretty substantially because I think we’re going to get to cruising altitude much more quickly than a subscription service,” Burke said during Comcast’s earnings call Thursday. He also said that Peacock will play to Comcast’s strengths, including its 55 million video customers (including Sky) and its role as the biggest provider of television advertising in the U.S.

Peacock will enter a streaming video market that is welcoming several new high-profile services from Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and Quibi. Burke said the overall ecosystem and promotional intensity of these launches is not too surprising considering the three biggest media companies are all launching streaming services. But he predicted there will be an eventual shakeout, and the market will get more rational in the future.

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Burke said that Peacock will have a mix of originals, exclusive acquisitions like “The Office,” and a lot of non-exclusive content. But he assured investors that Comcast/NBCUniversal will continue licensing content to other platforms like HBO.

Peacock is planning to debut in April and it will use the 2020 Summer Olympics as an “afterburner” after the launch. Burke said that NBCU will add a significant amount of content throughout 2020.

NBCUniversal is going to be quiet regarding details about Peacock until about one month before its launch. Burke said that’s because of “competitive reasons.” But the company has revealed some details about the service. It will run on top of Comcast and Sky’s technology platforms, and will be made available at no cost to NBCUniversal’s pay TV subscribers in the U.S. and international markets. The company will also sell an ad-free version of the service, but it did not disclose how much that option will cost. A subscription tier for Peacock will be available to consumers outside of Comcast’s and Sky’s customer base.

NBCUniversal did say that Peacock will be placed “front and center” on Flex, the streaming video platform service Comcast recently made free for its broadband-only subscribers.

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