Why Comcast Isn’t Fast-Tracking Peacock Despite Current Quarantine Streaming Boom

“We’re not trying to gain subscribers,” Jeff Shell says

Burt Macklin Chris Pratt Parks and Rec

Bad news for those of you non-Comcast customers looking to try out NBCUniversal’s new streaming service Peacock while stuck at home amid the pandemic: You’re still going to have to wait until the planned nationwide rollout on July 15. NBCU does not intend on speeding up Peacock’s full launch to capitalize on the quarantine streaming boom.

“Our goals on launching first with Comcast were twofold: 1) Get the product right technically, and 2) Learn some things about how people are using it so when we roll it out nationally we can go out with the best product,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during Comcast’s earnings call Thursday, which came two weeks after Peacock became available to the NBCU parent company’s subs on April 15.

“So why not pull it up and launch it earlier?” he said. “We’re in a marathon, not a sprint. We have an ad-supported service. We’re don’t see the value — we’re not trying to gain subscribers and we want to make sure the product is right before we launch in July. So this is kind of a measured strategy on our part and I think it’s the right strategy for Peacock and we’re very encouraged and even more optimistic on it long term.”

Shell says that “the early results” for Peacock two weeks into its Comcast-subs-only early preview “are very, very encouraging, particularly the amount of time that each person is spending on the platform.”

“Our product is a very, very deep offering. We obviously didn’t launch with a lot of our splashy originals because of COVID, but we have so much on there that people are getting on there and spending a lot more time on there than we had originally anticipated, which is great news.”

Some of those “splashy originals” planned for the service include a “Brave New World” adaptation, a “Battlestar Galactica” reboot and the “Saved by the Bell” and “Punky Brewster” revivals.

When it does launch nationally, Peacock will have two separate tiers of service, both of which will be free to Comcast, as well as Cox, subscribers.

The free option, called Peacock Free, will include next-day access to current seasons of freshman broadcast series on NBC, as well as library content and curated daily news and sports programming. As for Peacock originals, this option only includes “select” episodes as well as access to what Peacock is calling “streaming genre channels” like “SNL Vault,” “Family Movie Night” and “Olympic Profiles.”

The second tier, called Peacock Premium, will available for no extra charge to Comcast and Cox subscribers. For everyone else, it will cost $4.99 a month for an ad-supported option, or $9.99 a month to have no ads. The Premium tier features everything on the Free option but includes all Peacock Originals, early access to late-night series like “Tonight Show” and “Late Night” and more sports including Premier League soccer.

Comcast reported its first-quarter 2020 earnings Thursday morning. Readers can find those results here.