NBCUniversal looks to challenge Apple TV+ and Netflix next April

Cynthia Littleton for Variety:

Comcast units are double down on the content and streaming wars as NBCUniversal plans to launch its advertising-supported streaming platform in April and Sky is vowing to double the volume of original content it delivers with an emphasis on European material.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch talked up the company’s content options during Comcast’s second quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Burke said NBCU has more than 500 people working on the NBCUniversal streaming platform.

MacDailyNews Take: So, they’re only overstaffed by roughly 400.

NBCU recently struck a deal to scoop up exclusive streaming rights to “The Office” as a marquee property for the streaming service, although it will not return to NBCU from Netflix until 2021.

Burke said NBCUniversal is also investing in originals for its streaming platform, which will be advertising supported and available for free to those who have a traditional MVPD subscription or for a monthly fee.

MacDailyNews Take: An MVPD is a “multichannel video programming distributor.” As in: a traditional cable or satellite provider or such things as an over-the-top (OTT) Internet television service, including our favorite: Sony’s Playstation Vue.

So, it sounds like NBCUniversal’s service will require a monthly fee if you don’t have an MVPD, yet still have ads. That usage case certainly sounds subpar.


  1. What they are describing is how Hulu works now. How do you figure the economics of a streaming service would work without either advertising or some substantial subscriber fee? My guess is that you can remove the ads by paying a higher fee, again just like Hulu.

  2. So basically, every major studio (and their networks) is going to have their own streaming site. NBCUniversal; Disney+ (ABC/Fox); and Warner have announced plans. CBS All Access is already here. And then there’s Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, among others.

    I’m as big a fan of Apple as anyone, but does anyone really think they’re going to find room in this market with its tiny program library? Unless they buy one of the existing studios, I honestly don’t see their play here. Does anyone?

    1. The fragmentation of content into separate pay silos is going to be unpleasant for a while and then it will fall over. The only success model is cable TV. Ultimately, a service will need to bundle all the content channels and sell to consumers as one interface with single monthly bill.

      Apple may be one of those providers, but there will be competition.. looks like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu are the other main possibilities right now. But if the existing cable companies are smart, they should also be working on this pivot.

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