I’d say Peacock can be considered a success so far since its launch this summer. The service has over 30 million registered users. This number though does not reflect the number of subscribers to the streamer’s premium tier of content which allows access to a slate of original shows and expanded access to archived movies and TV shows. I say it has been successful so far because it has over 30 million email addresses that it can use to market its wares and the potential to monetize the free content it offers, which is vast. It has two premium packages with one at $4.99 while a higher tier premium subscription costs $9.99. The difference between the two is that the more expensive one is a commercial-free option. Comcast doesn’t need my help being huge and powerful but it seems to me that the company is bound to make a move going forward. In fact, if it’s going to make a big impact it almost has to.
There is another service out there built on a cooperate brand that offers exclusive TV shows and access to archived material for $4.99 and $9.99. There is one big difference though. That service CBS All Access/Paramount+ also offers access to CBS TV affiliates live. The ViacomCBS product does not have a free tier like Peacock but can boast that everyone who watches pays for it. Peacock should take one part of this example and run with it. At the moment the impetus for adding a paid tier of the service would be something like upcoming access to the WWE Network or so that they can watch the full run of shows like The Office or Cheers, maybe a craving for the new version of Saved By The Bell. But from what I have seen via buzz for Peacock’s original content it has not been a driver. But what if the paid tier let you watch live feeds of everything from your local NBC affiliate from news and TV shows to live sports? That would be a bit more of a substantial package, wouldn’t it?
The thing is that Comcast already allows users to stream their local broadcast channel via apps for almost every streaming platform. It does so via the NBC app. The NBC app is a TV everywhere app that allows users to sign in to the app using a participating pay-TV partner account. Once they have done so they can jump right into live TV with their local affiliate and a number of other Comcast owned properties via a mini-program grid. At the moment there is no such option to do that with the Peacock app. I would go as far as saying for $4.99 you could add the local TV access and for $9.99 you would get access to the rest of the Comcast-owned channels live as well.
If Comcast were to make such a move, then it would be able to focus all of its streaming into one place. HBO Max is a perfect example of what should happen. Warner for a time supported “HBO Go” and “HBO Now”. One was meant for pay-TV HBO users and the other wasn’t. Now there is one app with logins for both types of users, but the access to content is the same. If Comcast were to funnel everyone who wanted to watch shows from USA Network and MSNBC and The SYFY Network to the same place it would allow users to discover other content along the way and expand the potential audience to all of its shows.
Comcast has a good thing going with the free content on Peacock. The trend in streaming seems to be leaning heavily in the direction of free or freemium over paid content. But until revenue for streaming catches up to TV rates it will be hard for publically traded companies to put NFL football and Emmy winning TV shows on TV for free. But an option to see that and more for a reasonable price may give people a motivation to jump in with a higher-end service while allowing those who do not need it to continue to enjoy what it offered for merely the cost of shuffling past a few advertorial emails a week.
The face of streaming is not going to stop evolving anytime soon. But the consequences for not evolving with it are harsh. Comcast has the chance to offer something people might be happy to pay for.