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Comcast CFO: This is Why NBCUniversal Films Won’t Always Remain Peacock-Exclusive

Ben Bowman

As the streaming business model solidifies, we see some entertainment companies hoarding their content while others share with multiple platforms. The company behind Peacock is happy to split the difference.

In an interview at the Bank of America Media and Telecom Conference, Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh outlined the strategy. When NBCUniversal films leave theaters, they’ll get a four-month run on Peacock, followed by a detour to Prime Video or Netflix before returning to Peacock for a year.

“Innovation around ‘windowing’ is sort of going to be part of what makes us successful over time, we believe,” Cavanagh said. “So in terms of the Pay-One window, after it’s in theatrical, we took the traditional 18-month Pay-One window and split it between ourselves, 4 months to Peacock to begin with and then to others later on.”

“The money we received from third parties for that 18-month window despite the fact that we’re keeping the first 4 months of that window is actually higher than what it had been prior to this new deal that we did,” Cavanagh said. “That gives us the chance to use that powerful content to help drive Peacock… and I think it’s healthy for the system to serve other platforms as well and let content find its most high level of monetization. And we think it’s a long-term opportunity for us for the most part, and I think very much in these deals keep the asset for the long term in our own library is giving us lots of optionality for down the road. So I think we served a lot of our different strategic purposes in the rewinding that we did.”

While companies like Netflix and Disney+ jealously guard their films and shows, other studios like Sony are content to collect billions of dollars by spreading their content around. The benefit for those “content arms dealers” is that they can collect money without having to support an entire platform. With consumers becoming more discerning, the battle for subscription dollars continues to heat up.

While this deal may make financial sense for Comcast, it can be frustrating for consumers who struggle to find their favorite films. We know where we can find Star Wars and (most) Marvel films, but if you’re looking to binge all the “Fast and Furious” movies, you’d need three different streaming services and you’d also have to buy/rent a few (and none of those movies is on Peacock today).

It remains to be seen if a “split-the-difference” between exclusivity and syndication will help Peacock grow, but if Comcast sees it as more profitable, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

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