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Comcast's NBC Plans a Streaming Service. Will Anyone Care?

By Daniel B. Kline – Sep 18, 2019 at 11:54AM

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The cable and media company will use the 2020 Summer Olympics to help launch Peacock.

How many streaming services will consumers pay for?

That's the question facing Comcast's (CMCSA -2.04%) NBCUniversal with its newly announced Peacock service. The yet-to-be-priced streaming network will offer a mix of the company's deep archives along with new content from a variety of creators.

The challenge for Comcast is that the company will be joining a space dominated by Netflix (NFLX 0.13%), where a hundred million or so Amazon Prime members get Prime Video (whether they want it or not), and where Walt Disney (DIS -2.31%) will beat it to the punch with its aggressively priced Disney+. That soon-to-launch service has an even deeper content library, can be bundled cheaply with Hulu and ESPN+, and has new shows based on top-tier properties Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar.

Peacock faces an uphill battle because cord-cutters who dropped cable to save money will balk at some point when it comes to shelling out for yet another service. And, of course, if the launch of this product causes people to cut the cord, well, that hurts Comcast as it likely loses more revenue from cable than it gains from the subscription (though without pricing information, that's impossible to know).

A couple watching TV on a tablet while sitting in front of a TV.

Comcast is entering a very crowded market. Image source: Getty Images.

What will Peacock be?

The Comcast service will launch with one of Netflix's most popular shows, The Office, as an exclusive to the platform. It will also be the sole streaming home for Parks & Recreation and offer 30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Saturday Night Live, Will & GraceKing Of Queens, and Married With...Children on a non-exclusive basis.

Those will be joined by new content, including a remake of Battlestar Galactica from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, Dr. Death starring Alec Baldwin, Jamie Dornan, and Christian Slater, and Brave New World with Demi Moore. Peacock will also offer new original comedies involving actors, writers, and producers like Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Mike Schur, Ed Helms, Jada Pinkett Smith, Rashida Jones, and Tracey Wigfield.

Peacock will also be the home for reboots of Punky Brewster and Saved By the Bell. The service will also offer a new season of the recently cancelled A.P. Bio and content from DreamWorks Animation.

There will also be original movies, Spanish-language programming, and a variety of reality shows. Peacock will launch with 15,000 hours of content at the end of July 2020, around the time of the Summer Olympics (which NBC has U.S. broadcast rights for).

"The name Peacock pays homage to the quality content that audiences have come to expect from NBCUniversal -- whether it's culture-defining dramas from innovative creators like Sam Esmail, laugh-out-loud comedies from legends like Lorne Michaels and Mike Schur, blockbusters from Universal Pictures, or buzzy unscripted programming from the people who do it best at Bravo and E!," said NBCUniversal Direct-to-Consumer Chairman Bonnie Hammer in a press release.

Is Peacock enough?

Had NBCUniversal launched Peacock a few years ago, it might have been a big hit. Offering this service for the first time in July 2020 makes the chances for success much smaller. Some of the announced shows seem appealing, but would most science fiction fans opt for a service that has a remake of Battlestar Galactica or the Disney one, which offers multiple shows based on Star Wars along with a number of series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

While it could be argued that Peacock will enter the market with the third-strongest content lineup behind Netflix and Disney, it also may be behind Amazon and AT&T's HBO. It's hard to see where the consumer demand comes from and The Office may be a draw when it's part of your Netflix subscription, but there's no telling if people will sign up and pay just to access a show they have already seen.

Comcast has to try. However, Peacock will face an uphill battle. Consumers have a lot of TV choices even if they cut the cord and opt for just a couple of streaming services. Many might decide they don't need another one unless Peacock can deliver a number of hit originals, and that's very hard to do in a space this crowded.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short October 2019 $125 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Comcast. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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