16 Jul 2020

EVEN AS LOCKDOWNS confine Americans to their homes, no one is in danger of running out of things to watch on television. Netflix, the leading video-streamer, offers more than 36,000 hours of programming. If that is not enough, viewers can tune in to new offerings from tech firms, such as Amazon and Apple, and old media companies, from Disney+ to HBO Max, owned by AT&T. So viewers may barely blink their square eyes at the news that yet another streamer, Peacock, hatched on July 15th. And unlike its rivals, this bird is free.

It needs to be, for it is late to the party. The average American household paid for three streaming services last year and has taken on a fourth since the pandemic hit, reckons Deloitte, a consultancy. In a recession few want a fifth. So Peacock, launched by NBCUniversal, part of Comcast, a cable provider, is letting them pay not with money but with their time, by watching ads.

NBCUniversal’s back-catalogue is certainly deep—13,000 hours of TV and film, from “Psycho” to “30 Rock”, or 20,000 on a paid, “premium” plan. But, says Peter Supino of Bernstein, a research firm, it is designed for the old days of linear television and the cinema. Online, with near-infinite choice and personalised recommendations, niche is king. Comcast is not putting much money into Peacock originals: the service...


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This content was originally published by The Economist: Business. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By The Economist: Business

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