Peacock will be launching as a service tomorrow. There are a lot of things to watch for starting tomorrow that will define whether the app is successful or not. See our Peacock review here
Roku and Fire TV User Outrage
First off there will be millions of Roku and Fire TV users asking where the app is on their device? While there has been consistent reporting on the disagreements between Comcast and the two leading streaming platforms in the country most people are going to be unaware because they do not build their day around reading tech blogs and entertainment industry news. So prepare to see tons of posts on various Facebook pages saying Why isn’t on my TV etc.
A Branding Nightmare
People are not going to understand the difference between the paid version of Peacock and the two premium versions. Reporting around Peacock has centered on the made up “Streaming Wars” and constantly puts Peacock in a category with Netflix or HBO Max. For the record there is a free version of the service. It is pretty much all that has been advertised. All free, you can’t not watch and so on. But the description of the service in the media always points out that the free version has commercials and 10,000 hours of content while the lowest priced paid version has commercials and 20,000 hours of content and the most expensive one has 20,000 hours of content without commercials. Did you get all that? Differentiating between what the other 10,000 hours of content that one gets from the paid version will be impossible to explain.
The fact that there are two paid versions and one free version is outright weird. It follows a model that Hulu launched a few years back after a very vocal minority demanded a commercial free option. To this day far more use the ad-supported option than not. But that change came organically. Hulu started as a free service accessible on a computer. Then migrated to set-top boxes with a paid service while still maintaining a free version on desktops. It differentiated between the two by calling the mobile and set-top version Hulu Plus. Eventually it dropped the differences and made access paid all around. Simple branding see. And finally went with a limited commercial paid option and a no commercial paid option. But Peacock is throwing all of it in at the same time. Free, pay and pay more. The elevator conversation around Peacock turns into a dissertation with the current set up.
The Audience For Free Version Is Going To Dwarf Paid Subscribers
Most people (who will actually be able to get it) are going to use the free version. There is just no appetite for another paid service right now. Especially considering the state of the economy. From its ads it looks like Comcast is betting on that. The insistence that it will have 2 paid versions ignores the fact that commercials never mention it. Not even like a throw away “and for just ______ you can get it commercial free. Android TV users will get a nearly 4 month free preview of the paid version. And of course there will be some who forget to cancel it and get charged. But there is just no demand for this right now. Anybody who signs up for the free version can expect constant emails encouraging them to sign up for the paid version.
Peacock will settle on two models instead of three
The demand for the paid version is going to be so low that the company will eventually move all of its programming to the free version because it will realize that it can make a killing with addressable advertising by putting content that people want to see in front of them for free instead of hoping to make it up with subscription fees. The company will still have a paid version without ads. This will give people a choice to watch all of the archived and new content with one model or another. It will just be so much easier to explain that way.
Expect to see lots of Olympics material
The Olympics should be happening this summer, but of course we know they are not. But NBC has decades of archives of the event. Being that Peacock will have multiple streaming channels built in to the service you should expect it to try and cash in on this. NBCU even has an Olympics Channel already. Memorable events like gymnastics and the Dream Team’s run through the 1992 Olympics would be big winners especially after the promotion of the period due to an assist from ESPN and “The Last Dance”.
Expect to See the NBC App Disappear
Why would Comcast maintain two apps that allow users to watch commercially supported replays of its programming? It truly would have been easier for NBC to just vamp up its existing app and rebrand it as Peacock and add a paid tier. But the internal wisdom of Comcast dictated that it should reinvent the wheel instead. It’s more flashy that way. So after it gets Peacock off the ground it will follow HBO’s model of dropping HBO Go and Now in the wake of HBO Max. Peacock advertises the ability to see shows that aired the day before on NBC via the service. Sounds familiar right? Expect to see the NBC app disappear first on formats that already have Peacock.