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NBCUniversal’s Netflix-killer Peacock features ads, Spotify-like playlists—and a lot of ‘Law & Order’

Here’s what you need to know about the latest entrant in the streaming wars.

NBCUniversal’s Netflix-killer Peacock features ads, Spotify-like playlists—and a lot of ‘Law & Order’
[Photo: rawpixel; NBCUniversal]

NBCUniversal broke down the particulars of Peacock at its investor meeting Thursday, detailing exactly how its streaming platform intends to strut into a crowded playing field and capture the attention of not only viewers, but marketers as well.

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While major announcements concerning content deals and original programming were addressed, the focus of the presentation leaned heavily on how Peacock is looking at the ad space and pricing tiers.

“I believe this changing technological world driven by the internet, where anything is instantly available on any device, would prove more friend than foe to Comcast/NBCUniversal,” said Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. “And that we could become an even more special and unique company for our employees, customers, and investors if we repositioned ourselves to be at the heart of this dynamic change within the existing ecosystem.”

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from Peacock.

Freemium and low-cost tiers

In his presentation, Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises, cited that 80% of viewers would choose a free streaming service with ads versus paying for an ad-free experience. With the growing list of available streaming services, Strauss predicts an increase in subscription fatigue, which is why Peacock will have two ad-supported tiers and a premium, ad-free one.

The ad-supported free tier will give users access to more than 7,500 hours of movies, TV shows (current season and back catalog), daily news, sports, and Hispanic programming.

There’ll also be Peacock Premium, an ad-supported $4.99/month tier with 15,000 hours of content. Peacock’s ad-free version will be $9.99/month.

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“Increasingly streamers want alternatives and are looking to access premium content with ads in exchange for a lower cost,” Strauss said. “This represents a growing white space opportunity in the streaming market and where we plan to squarely focus Peacock.”

Curated content

One of the pain points that Strauss claims Peacock will address is endless scrolling.

“About 65% of the time people know what they want to watch, and the job of any good streaming service is to provide an on-demand experience that’s easy to navigate with personalized features,” he says. “But that’s just one dimension to how we watch TV, because sometimes you don’t know what you want to watch.”

Peacock’s solution will be to have streaming channels: curated programming across sports, entertainment, and news.

“Spotify, in my opinion, took music to a whole new level with daily playlists, created and updated based on music preferences,” Strauss said. “We see the same opportunity for streaming video with Peacock channels.”

Fewer and more diverse ads

In both the free tier and Peacock Premium, there will only five minutes of ads per hour, compared to the traditional industry standard, Strauss cites, that ranges anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes.

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Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, also announced different ad options for marketers: solo ads (brands can present viewers an entire episode with only one ad), explore ads (using data to align a brand with relevant programming for more targeted ads), and on-command ads (voice-activated branding and calls-to-action).

Content and rollout

After rumors of where producer Dick Wolf’s massive catalog of franchises that includes Law & Order and Chicago would wind up, NBCUniversal announced that Peacock will officially be Wolf’s new home. Kevin Hart also struck a multiyear partnership with NBCUniversal through his Laugh Out Loud network. The deal will include a first-look deal, a series of short-form comedy series, an original show title Hart to Heart, and a Peacock standup special.

Peacock will begin rolling out April 15 to Xfinity subscribers. The platform will be available for all users on July 15. For now, Peacock will only be available in the United States, but there are intentions to bring it to international markets.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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