NBCUniversal, the television and movie production arm of cable giant Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), is mulling an early debut of the on-demand video platform first announced last year. Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises chairman Matt Strauss commented in a conference call held Tuesday "Some have asked, 'Is there an opportunity to launch Peacock nationally even sooner?' It is something we are evaluating -- we certainly see the value."
The possibility is being raised while millions of Americans are stuck at home due to the coronavirus contagion. Even where local and state governments haven't mandated people remain at home to avoid the spread of the disease, most are voluntarily doing so as much as is feasibly possible.
They're using that time watching lots of television. TV-viewership ratings outfit Nielsen reported late last month that through the first three weeks of March, streamed video content in the U.S. was up 85% year over year. Some consumers -- many of whom have now been "sheltering at home" for a month or more -- feel as if they've already seen most of what they'd be interested in watching from streaming leader Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). If Comcast wanted to address a (somewhat literally) captive audience, now would be an ideal time to do so.
Unfortunately, Peacock isn't quite ready for primetime. COVID-19 shutdowns have not only postponed this year's Olympics, they've also pushed back the filming of much of the original content expected to air on Peacock once it finally went live. The underlying ad technology itself also isn't ready for commercialization just yet.
Comcast's Xfinity X1 and Flex internet customers will still be able to enjoy their early access version, however, slated for launch on Wednesday.