NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke says the company is hoping to launch its direct-to-consumer streaming service in April, a little later than the first-quarter 2020 time frame that the company announced six months ago.
In an earnings call for parent company Comcast, Burke described the April timing as a “goal” and said more than 500 people are working on the service now.
Whether NBCU nails that timing or not, the service will take awhile to build up steam. The Office, which Burke described as “one of the tentpole programs on our platform,” won’t leave Netflix until the beginning of 2021, and current NBC shows will keep flowing to Hulu until at least 2022. (NBC has the option to also bring some of those shows to its own platform starting next May, but it would get lower licensing fees from Hulu if that happened.) Meanwhile, NBC has said little about its plans for original content, aside from a second life for A.P. Bio after its cancellation on NBC’s broadcast network.
At the outset, NBC’s streaming service will mainly be a giveaway for pay-TV subscribers, who will get the service for free with ads. Cord-cutters will have to pay $10 per month, and NBC supposedly doesn’t expect many of them to sign up.
Comcast’s telecom rival AT&T also recently delayed plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming service, called HBO Max. It will launch this spring, later than the end of 2019 time frame that AT&T targeted originally.