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Peacock is More Than Just a Streaming Service, and It’s Not Flailing as Much as You Might Think

Stephen Silver

Peacock — Comcast and NBCUniversal’s streaming service — launched for some Comcast customers in the summer of 2020 with a national launch a month later. The service has steadily added subscribers, grabbing 4 million new ones in the first quarter of this year. In the same quarter that Netflix finally lost subscribers, Peacock posted a 44% gain.

However, despite apparent growth from the streamer, a new analysis says that the most popular understandings of Peacock aren’t quite right because its model is somewhat different from those of other major streaming services.

According to a Variety Intelligence Platform, in a piece called What Everyone Gets Wrong About Peacock, Peacock isn’t just an SVOD (subscription video-on-demand service), despite popular understanding. It is that but, according to variety, that aspect of the service “is not the core driver of what led Comcast to invest in Peacock, nor what it is today.”

Instead, according to the article, Peacock is better viewed as a part of Comcast’s ongoing connected TV (CTV) strategy, which includes its move into smart TVs, its joint venture with cable rival Charter Communications, and plans to license the company’s Flex operating system to other providers; it’s all part of Comcast’s strategy for growth in the cord-cutting era.

“Peacock is heavily integrated into both the Flex and the Xfinity set-top box,” the Variety report said, “[and] there’s more value to it from a CTV perspective than as a pure SVOD.”

Also, according to the analysis, Peacock is a different experience for different customers, with some getting the ad-supported tier and others opting for the premium option. The company has also been able to get the streamer in a lot of homes when they sign up for either cable or broadband — either with Comcast or another cable provider.

“The recent deals with Charter for first subscriber access to Peacock and, more recently, partnering on the Comcast Flex CTV device, show that Comcast’s goal is to integrate Peacock into as many pay-TV subscriptions as possible,” Variety said.

It was also smart, Variety says, for Comcast to put all of its tiers under the Peacock umbrella, rather than separate out options as rival Paramount does with Paramount+, SHOWTIME, and Pluto TV, even if has led to “confusing reporting in the quarterly earnings calls.”

Another big part of the service’s success has been the WWE, with Peacock taking over what was formerly the standalone WWE Network in 2021. The move, per Variety, is “paying off nicely for both companies,” with the network getting more viewership than it did pre-Peacock. The sports entertainment company’s signature event WrestleMania 38 proved to be a huge success for the streamer earlier this year.

“Peacock shouldn’t be seen as an SVOD play but a CTV-maximizer push from Comcast,” Variety concluded. “Clearly, with their various ventures in the space, Comcast views CTV as a way to transition the strengths of its cable TV business into the new world.”

As entertainment companies continue to invest more heavily in streaming, they each have their own unique strategy designed to benefit their specific business interests. How Netflix approaches streaming won’t be the same as how WarnerBros. Discovery does, and both will be markedly different from how Comcast handles Peacock. So it would benefit all onlookers to remember that while streaming expansion appears to be the ultimate goal for everyone, there is more than one way to make that happen.

Peacock

Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that includes original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series. Peacock is home to “Yellowstone,” and “The Office,” as well as original hits like “Bel-Air.” You can also watch live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and exclusive MLB games. Peacock is also the exclusive home to many WWE events like WrestleMania. Premium Plus subscribers can stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.

Peacock includes news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Peacock also includes the entire library of Bravo shows and has exclusives like “Below Deck: Down Under.” They also include live and on-demand access to Hallmark channels.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” and the entire Dick Wolf library including “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire.”

The service also features blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.

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