Peacock is spreading its wings.
The NBCUniversal streaming service, which launched on Wednesday, is offering another streaming service to households. But unlike most of its competitors, its pricing starts at the low cost of free.
"We're seeing signs of subscription fatigue where consumers are looking for more affordable choices," Peacock chairman Matt Strauss told Cheddar. "That was true when we announced our strategy seven months ago. Now that we're in a pandemic in an unstable economy, it's more relevant now than it ever was."
Peacock is offering audiences access to 20,000 hours of shows, movies, and specials. While the majority of it comes from NBCUniversal's vast library of content, the company has also brokered deals with ViacomCBS, Lionsgate, A&E, Warner Bros., and Fox to bring additional programming. As a result, you'll see Law and Order: SVU and Cheers alongside Everybody Loves Raymond and Ray Donovan.
"We also see ourselves as an aggregator," Strauss said. "So the Peacock brand, we really want to position as the premium ad-supported streaming service, and to be that kind of positioning you've got to go even bigger."
It will also feature original shows and sports coverage, but production and events have been delayed by the pandemic including the rescheduled 2020 Olympics. At launch, Peacock features nine original shows including Brave New World and the Psych 2 movie. There are plans to add Saved by the Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica reboots, as well as a Dr. Death series inspired by the podcast and starring Alec Baldwin by 2021.
A lot of Peacock's content won't require you to put in a credit card. However, to access its premium content including full seasons of exclusive shows, next-day access to current seasons of NBC broadcast shows, early access to late-night talk shows, and some additional sports like Premier League you'll need to pay $4.99 a month for an ad-supported viewing experience and $9.99 to skip all the interruptions.
Part of the tradeoff for being able to watch the service is viewers will have to sit through ads. This puts it in direct competition with Hulu, which used to be partially-owned by NBCUniversal parent company Comcast. However, Comcast sold its one-third stake to Disney in May 2019.
While ad-supported TV is not entirely a new concept — Strauss points out broadcast was built on this premise — it's not a common one among the popular subscription services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+. Strauss doesn't feel this is a deterrent.
"History has shown that people are willing to make tradeoffs to watch content at affordable prices for some advertising," he said.
But viewers won't see the same amount of ads on Peacock as they would see on traditional TV, Strauss said. An average hour of network television has 16 to 20 minutes of commercials. Peacock's ad load is no more than five minutes. It also is trying some new formats including having people watch two minutes of ads straight in order to access a full-length movie without interruptions. The service is also paying special attention that, despite having 10 core sponsors, ads don't repeat often — a complaint among many ad-supported video services.
And, if someone doesn't want the ads, they can always pay to remove them, Strauss added.
"We want to create an uncluttered environment, and I think there's a willingness for consumers to get access to a much broader array of content understanding that there will be some advertising," he said.