Two of the top executives in charge of Peacock, the streaming service launching Wednesday for Comcast subscribers, said it remains on track to hit financial and usage targets despite the massive disruption of COVID-19.
Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises and Dana Strong, president of consumer services for Comcast Cable, said there has been “no material change” to initial guidance. At an investor day in January, NBCU and Comcast execs forecast 30 to 35 million active users of Peacock by 2024.
Peacock is joining an increasingly crowded streaming field, with Disney, Apple and Quibi launching streaming initiatives in the past few months. WarnerMedia is set to launch HBO Max in May, capping a series of efforts to slow the momentum of incumbents led by Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
On Tuesday, Strauss and Strong delivered a press briefing lasting a bit less than an hour, acknowledging some of the challenges but painting an optimistic picture given the level of on-demand viewing. They described several significant pivots they had to make due to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the shutdown of production, the suspension of live sports, among other factors. Given the surge in on-demand viewing — up 50% year-over-year and two hours more per day per household, according to Comcast — some had inquired about whether Comcast might speed up the nationwide rollout on July 15.
Comcast has seen a 50 percent increase in on-demand consumption year-over-year and voice remote searches for free content up nearly 250 percent. “We always planned to launch Peacock in two phases,” Strauss said. Accelerating the national rollout is “something we’re evaluating. We certainly see the value,” Strauss said, but with 100% of Peacock’s workforce working from home, “July 15 is still the target date.”
Between Comcast and Cox Cable platforms, Peacock will be available in 24 million U.S. homes by summer. A free, ad-supported basic offering will be nationally available on July 15, and Peacock Premium, which has twice the amount of content, will be available for $5 a month, or $10 for an ad-free version.
In a video demo sent prior to the audio-only press briefing, Strauss said the objective of Peacock was to “take you immediately into watching TV.” This full-screen rolling-stock video gives a “pulse” to streaming, Strauss said, and is “already a big differentiator” compared with other streaming services in the market.
Another standout feature are the channels dedicated to shows like Saturday Night Live or American Greed as well as a range of other genre and show-specific interests. There will be 20 such channels at launch, with more than 75 expected by the end of 2020. “We see these channels as a standbox,” Strauss said, with personalization a key feature.
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