NBCUniversal could move up launch of Peacock streaming service

Comcast’s new streaming service, Peacock, could debut earlier than planned, the company said Tuesday, citing the “unprecedented and historic turn of events brought about by the coronavirus.”

With millions of Americans stuck at home under “shelter-in-place” orders, the company is evaluating bringing the nationwide launch date forward.

“Some have asked, ‘is there an opportunity to launch Peacock nationally even sooner’ and that is something we are evaluating” Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock and NBCUniversal digital enterprises, said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon.

While current Comcast customers will be able to access the platform starting on Wednesday, Peacock’s national launch is still slated for July 15 — though Strauss hinted that date could change.

The complete shutdown of original productions has caused issues for Peacock, Strauss said. It has also ushered in new opportunities to work with talent in ways that may not have been possible if they had been committed to other productions that are now closed.

“There is a lot that has changed in the market and in the world, and this has had an impact,” Strauss said.

The Olympic Games, which were slated to be a big feature on Peacock, will now simply be delayed until next year and the service will be able to capitalize on two Olympic games instead.

Peacock will include a library of content from NBCUniversal, including “Jurassic Park,” “The Office,” and early access to Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show.”

The service will be available on mobile devices, via a Peacock website, and through an app on connected TVs by July.

Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, is the latest entrant into an increasingly crowded field of streaming services. Popular services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are facing challenges from Disney+, which launched earlier last year, and HBO Max, which unspools next month.

Strauss said he expects Peacock’s audience to reach 30-50 million users by 2024. Major long-term sponsors such as Capital One, Subaru, and Verizon remain locked in, Strauss said.

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