Comcast bets on ads with launch of Peacock streaming service

FILE PHOTO: RCA peacock is pictured outside NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

(Reuters) – Comcast-owned NBCUniversal will enter a crowded streaming market on Wednesday when it launches its Peacock streaming service nationally, offering 20,000 hours of content, including NBC shows such as “30 Rock,” “Cheers” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The service, which became available to some Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) subscribers in April, is the media giant’s effort to offset declines in Comcast’s cable TV business – while finding a new way to monetize NBC and Universal content and maintain demand for the company’s broadband business, which powers streaming services.

Peacock will include a mix of NBC series, sports, news and original shows, such as the dystopian drama “Brave New World” and documentary “In Deep with Ryan Lochte.”

Unlike the majority of its streaming rivals, Peacock is offering a free, ad-supported version, which will include 7,500 hours of programming. NBCUniversal hopes to lure advertisers through the vast amounts of data it can use to target commercials based on viewers’ interests, including data from Comcast’s cable TV set-top boxes.

Peacock also has two paid options: a $4.99 per month service with commercials and 20,000 hours of programming; and an ad-free version costing $9.99 per month.

NBCUniversal missed the opportunity to market Peacock during its broadcast of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which were postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. And as the last entry to the streaming war, Peacock will be competing for streaming dollars with services such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O), Walt Disney Co (DIS.N)-owned Disney+ and Inc’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Prime Video.

But Peacock’s free option could be a draw for viewers who have already maxed out their monthly entertainment budgets. And viewers stuck at home are hungry for content: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, 23% of U.S. consumers have added at least one new paid streaming video service, according to Deloitte.

Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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