NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service will launch on April 15, featuring the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the first major sports attraction for fans.
The network is set to feature five hours of daily coverage from the Olympic Games on Peacock, plus three studio shows available only on its platform.
NBC has also promised more live sports content after the Olympics. Featured group coverage from the Ryder Cup in September and out-of-market English Premier League games will be streamed to fans for free on Peacock.
Questions now arise over the impact Peacock’s sports offerings will have on NBC Sports Gold – NBC’s paid over-the-top streaming option – particularly around Premier League Pass.
Premier League Pass on NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers access to 140 matches not broadcasted in the U.S. for $64.99 per season. The same content will soon be offered for free to millions of Comcast and Cox Subscribers, NBC said. Non-members will pay $4.99 per month, or effectively $60 a year – roughly a $5 discount compared to solely purchasing Premier League Pass.
“Yes, there is a chance they will be eating their own lunch. The trick, however, is to make Peacock complementary to NBC Sports Gold,” Kevin Cochrane, director of EMEA business development at Tata Consulting Services, said. “NBC may use ads to push Peacock users to other premium content around the Premier League or other packages on the subscription service.”
Fans on NBC Sports Gold can choose between 15 different sports packages to gain access to exclusive NASCAR, Premier League Lacrosse, and Rugby content in addition to the PGA Tour and EPL.
“NBC Sports Gold’s ‘Premier League Pass’ will not be impacted by Peacock,” NBC said in an email. “Viewers now have more choices – whether it’s the sport-specific offering on NBC Sports Gold or as a part of the wide ranging and robust news and entertainment offerings on Peacock.”
No other sports programming has been announced by NBC on Peacock to date. The network also holds media distribution rights for the NFL and NHL, among other league properties.
Peacock will take on Netflix, Disney+, and other companies participating in the ongoing streaming wars. By also incorporating live sports into its offering, NBC may influence rivals to do the same, Cochrane said.
“Netflix isn’t that involved in sports yet outside of documentaries and Disney has not said it will go after any rights,” he said. “Whether Peacock will induce Disney and Netflix to up their game by securing rights will be a matter for them to consider.”
A likely immediate competitor to Peacock will be Amazon’s Prime Video service, which already has a history or securing streaming rights in addition to rolling out sports-themed documentaries like its “All or Nothing” series.
In December, Amazon Prime began offering Premier League fans in the U.K. the option to stream 20 matches per season on its service, which lead to millions of new subscribers, it said. Amazon’s deal with the Premier League runs through the end of the 2021-2022 season.
The e-commerce giant is also said to be in the running to buy the streaming rights to WWE Network, according to multiple reports.
“Right holders themselves will be the real winners in the long-term if more streaming services go this route,” Cochrane said.
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NBCUniversal’s parent company Comcast estimates that 80% of Americans still have cable subscriptions, despite the growing wave of cord cutters cancelling agreements in favor of signing up for OTT services.
NBCUniversal executives acknowledged during the company’s investor day on January 16 that most of NBC’s original content is consumed via video on-demand platforms like YouTube rather than live on its family of networks. Peacock will serve to bring those views in-house and earn additional revenue from advertisers.
“We believe that Peacock will be a fantastic product for consumers and advertisers alike and a new channel to better monetize our content,” Mike Cavanagh, Comcast’s CFO and Senior Vice President, said on the company’s earnings call last month.
The new service also promises to be a win for cord cutters.
“You get all that content for free or $5 a month, with niche sports offerings included at no extra cost,” said Rich Greenfield, partner at Lightshed Partners, a technology, media, and telecommunications research firm.
“I think it is a far more compelling user interface for users to get access to an array of NBC content with a fraction of the ad load.”