NBCUniversal will enter the increasingly crowded streaming market when it debuts its ad-supported platform in April, Comcast announced Thursday during the company’s Q2 earnings report.
The ad-supported platform will be free for consumers with a traditional MVPD subscription or otherwise available for a monthly fee. The cost of that monthly fee has yet to be announced. Besides the April launch date and the fact that it will use the same infrastructure as the U.K.-based Now TV streaming service, the Thursday call did not shed much light the still-unnamed streaming service.
But many prospective viewers might already be sold on the platform based on one fact: NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service will be the exclusive home to beloved sitcom “The Office,” which will leave Netflix early next year. The company invested a significant amount of money—reportedly $100 million per year for five years—to get the rights to the show for its own platform.
The company also recently announced that the popular comedy series “A.P. Bio” would be renewed for a third season and shown on the upcoming streaming service.
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NBCUniversal has yet to announce other shows that will appear on the streaming platform, but it’s expected that most of the content will be acquired programs, at least at first. That said, the platform will have at least some original content, according to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. “We are spending money on originals,” Burke said during the earnings call. “I would expect the vast majority of consumption in the beginning would be (of) acquired programs.”
Burke added that more than 500 people are working on the platform and said many of its original series would be tied to content libraries that the company already owns. That move is expected, as content exclusivity is becoming increasingly important in the crowded streaming market. NBCUniversal investing in new, exclusive content based off its popular existing libraries is a safe move that could drive consumers to its upcoming platform.
Regardless, NBCUniversal’s platform will have plenty of competition. Apple and Disney are expected to release their own streaming platforms later in the year, while AT&T’s HBO Max service will launch in spring 2020. “The Office” might be a major draw for NBCUniversal’s upcoming platform, but it will have to compete with massive brands such as “Star Wars” and Marvel for viewers attentions—and wallets.