The content differential between the free-to-view and premium tiers on NBCU’s new Peacock streaming service will play an important role in shaping the service’s success, as NBCU works to stake its claim in both the ad-supported and subscription-backed market sectors. Doing so will require that Peacock establish a foothold in each category, with clearly distinguished boundaries.
With that reality in mind, we’ve taken a title-by-title dive into the content makeup of each tier, identifying the content that is unique to the $4.99 Peacock Premium offering, and the companion $9.99/mo Premium Plus variation that does away with advertising interruptions entirely.
Background: After its beta-launch on the Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms, Peacock has spread its tail feathers and launched to the public. With this launch, Peacock has found several intriguing ways to differentiate itself from other prominent streaming providers like HBO Max or Disney +. These distinguishing features include an offering of live channels such as “Today All Day”, a free-to-view tier of on demand content with advertising, a premium offering with extra on demand content and limited advertising, and a premium near-ad-free tier.
The difference between the free tier and premium tier isn’t dramatic just yet, but it could be enough to entice those watching for free to upgrade over time. (NBCU parent Comcast reported 10 million total sign-ups for Peacock so far.) Our most recent audit, now available on our VODTRAK® service, shows that the premium tier offers up around 10% more movie titles than the free-to-view tier, 25% more TV episodes, and around 22% more hours of viewing time.
Of course, raw content tonnage is not the sole arbiter of subscription decisions. NBCU also has been mindful about program popularity and familiarity, as evidenced by the availability of several iconic TV series on the premium tier. In addition to the added episodes and movies, certain classic TV titles such as “Cheers”, “Frasier”, and “The King of Queens”— distributed by ViacomCBS —are available only for those users on the premium tier. Along with these classics, the premium tier also offers up content from ViacomCBS’s premium service Showtime, including the series “Ray Donovan” and “The Affair.”
One of the strategies has been to populate Peacock with numerous series originally tied to the NBC network, but controlled by third party distributors such as ViacomCBS, which maintains syndication rights to several 1990s NBC sitcom classics. While most of the Peacock TV titles come from NBCUniversal associated studios, Peacock also has licensed content from distributors including FilmRise, Sony Pictures Television, A+E Networks, and WarnerMedia to help fill out its on-demand content library.
The same is true when we examine how Peacock filled out its movie libraries. While acquiring most of the films from NBCU-related properties, Peacock also has secured rights from studios associated with Lionsgate and ViacomCBS, as well as FilmRise, The Asylum, and Shout! Factory.
The big original coming out of the gates for Peacock is the TV adaptation of “Brave New World,” an adaption of the Aldous Huxley classic novel originally developed for NBCU’s Syfy channel. Although the series was met with mixed reviews from critics, the premiere occurred during a period of relative inactivity for new series productions given the COVID-19 pandemic. That reality gave NBCU one of the few high-profile, bingeable originals to cross screens in May, as all nine episodes were planted on the Peacock servers at once. Peacock also picked up two shows from the U.K., “The Capture” and “Intelligence”, and branded them as Peacock Originals. (Except for the first episodes, originals are available only on premium tiers.)
Next? Peacock is following the trend of other network SVOD providers like HBO Max and Disney + by offering up content coming mainly from their own libraries. Roughly 75% of the content on Peacock derives from NBCUniversal studios or their subsidiaries. Thus, Peacock is borrowing a content theme that’s prevalent among prominent streaming services including Disney + and HBO Max by leveraging original/exclusive content to create a sense of differentiation and attract fans.