It’s not unusual for companies to do market research before launching a new product. For Peacock, however, the research is coming two years after the streamer’s debut. Users have alerted The Streamable that Peacock is sending out surveys to determine its future.
Peacock’s growth has been incredibly slow since launch. Despite two Olympics and a monopoly on English Premier League and some WWE events, the service has only managed 15 million subscribers. That sluggish growth is prompting more aggressive movements from Peacock. The service has yanked its next-day streaming of Bravo and NBC shows away from Hulu. Universal films, previously destined for HBO Max, now go to Peacock for their streaming debuts.
Despite these moves, Peacock can’t seem to get a foothold in the streaming wars. One of the questions in the user survey is literally “What content does Peacock have that is worth paying for?”
Is Peacock really expecting its users to tell it the answer to this question?
Unlike many of its peers, Peacock offers a free tier, which should provide it with a large enough sample from which to pull audience data. But audiences still aren’t coming. The survey asks about things like picture quality, navigation, and content curation — all areas where most streaming services could use help. The survey also asks users to compare Peacock to other small streamers like Apple TV+ and Paramount+, perhaps hoping to understand where its competitors are outpacing it.
The most telling question in the survey asks participants whether they want to see more shows and movies that align with their ethnicity/race/sexuality or more content that features people from other backgrounds. This question could be a direct response to the lackluster box office of Universal’s “Bros” — do straight people not want to see a gay comedy? Is the reason for the underperformance that simple? When “Bros” arrives on Peacock, can they predict its performance?
In the end, the simple ask of that question betrays an oversimplification of the audience. “Squid Game” was not a runaway hit because Americans suddenly learned how to speak Korean. “Severance” wasn’t one of the year’s breakout hits because it reflected a demographic group. Representation matters, of course, but audiences will always seek out a compelling story and a catchy concept.
Too many streamers are stuck with a “more of the same” content strategy. Disney+ has already tapped the MCU and Star Wars market. What’s next? Paramount+ is nailing down the heterosexual tough-guy market with the ever-expanding Taylor Sheridan universe. Can it grow beyond that? HBO Max has been the king of storytelling variety, though new ownership may stifle that tradition. There’s nothing wrong with prequels and sequels and spinoffs, but true growth of a service comes with creative expansion.
The creative vibe at Peacock seems to be flatlining. “Joe vs Carole” was literally a retelling of Netflix’s mega-hit “Tiger King.” “The Kids Tonight Show,” “Vanderpump Dogs,” “Saved by the Bell,” and “Punky Brewster” are not worth a premium subscription. The sitcom format has been a particular struggle for all streamers, and the Michael Schur-created “Rutherford Falls” was canceled after one season. Too much of Peacock feels like reruns of shows you liked better the first time.
For parent company Comcast, Peacock is just one of many mouths to feed. The company needs to populate its linear channels like CNBC 、 MSNBC 、と NBC. It needs to promote its theatrical business. It has theme parks. The company simply doesn’t seem to have an identity. Disney has a stockpile of intellectual property to pull from. Paramount has several channels with defined genres to pull from (BET 、 Comedy Central 、 MTV 、と Nickelodeon). Peacock simply doesn’t address any of those niches as well as their counterparts.
Building out an audience for Peacock will require patience, investment, and creative freedom for showrunners. In the same way NBC’s “The Office” and “Seinfeld” faced near-cancellation in their earliest seasons, those now-iconic shows got reprieves that allowed the audiences to grow through word of mouth. Instead of trying to replicate those shows, Peacock needs to replicate the conditions under which those shows thrived.
As the streaming wars continue, the future will be dominated by the services that offer the best bang for the buck, and those shows or movies that inspire audiences. If Peacock is hoping to glean that strategy from a user survey or by mimicking/counter-programming its audiences, it’s going to be a long road indeed.
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. Starting Nov. 30, Premium Plus subscribers will be able to stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.
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.