NBCUniversal planning ad-supported streaming service for 2020

NBCUniversal said that it will continue licensing its content to other studios and platforms, though it plans to retain some of its TV shows and films for the platform. (Ben Munson/FierceVideo)

After months of speculation, NBCUniversal today officially announced plans to launch an ad-supported streaming service next year.

The service will draw on NBCUniversal’s content library along with licensed content and original programming. 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. Comcast Cable and Sky will provide the service to their combined 52 million subscribers.

NBCU said it will also sell an ad-free version of the service, but it did not disclose how much that option will cost. The company also plans to sell subscription access to the service for non-pay TV customers.

The company also said that it will continue licensing its content to other studios and platforms, though it plans to retain some of its TV shows and films for the platform.

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“NBCUniversal has some of the world’s most valuable intellectual property and top talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Many of the most-watched shows on today’s popular streaming platforms come from NBCUniversal. Our new service will be different than those presently in the market and it will be built on the company’s strengths, with NBCUniversal’s great content and the technology expertise, broad scale and the wide distribution of Comcast Cable and Sky,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in a statement.

The launch of NBCU's direct-to-consumer streaming service will come on the heels of similar subscription products from Disney and WarnerMedia, both anticipated to launch in 2019.

NBCU today also revealed a shuffled executive structure in anticipation of its streaming service. Bonnie Hammer has been promoted to chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and Digital Enterprises for NBCUniversal. Hammer’s team will consist of executives from Sky’s OTT offering, NOW TV and throughout NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal’s Digital Enterprises group, led by Maggie Suniewick, will move into Hammer’s consolidated digital group.

NBCU is also naming Mark Lazarus chairman of NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News, and giving him responsibility over most of the company’s East Coast-based content businesses, including the cable entertainment portfolio, NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. Lazarus will continue to oversee the NBC Sports Group, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations and NBC Affiliate Relations.

Jeff Shell has been named chairman of NBCUniversal Film and Entertainment. He will continue to oversee film and will also now be responsible for NBCUniversal’s international division and Telemundo.

Donna Langley has been promoted to become sole chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, including the addition of Global Theatrical Distribution and Home Entertainment.