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Peacock original programming to exist behind paywall, executives say

Most original shows, including the much-anticipated Brave New World, will only be available to paying subscribers.

Most original shows, including the much-anticipated Brave New World, will only be available to paying subscribers.

(Image: Comcast/NBC Universal, Graphic: The Desk)

Comcast will limit access to some of Peacock’s original programming when the new streaming service launches next week, according to a report.

In an interview with Business Insider, marketing executives for Comcast‘s subsidiary NBC Universal confirmed most of Peacock’s original programming will only be offered to paying subscribers.

At launch, Peacock is expected to offer three tiers of access: A free, ad-supported subscription with a limited number of TV episodes and movies; a premium, ad-supported subscription with full seasons of original  and licensed shows and movies for $5 a month; and an ultra-premium, commercial-free subscription with the same expanded content library for $10 a month.

On Friday, brand and marketing executive Alexandra Shapiro told Business Insider many of the streaming service’s original shows — including “Brave New World,” an upcoming program that has been heavily featured in promotions for the streaming service — will be available only to subscribers of the $5 a month or $10 a month plans.

Those original shows will “play a big role” in marketing initiatives for Peacock after it launches, Business Insider said.

Marketing strategy has shifted since Peacock was first announced earlier this year. Comcast executives timed the national launch date to coincide with the 2020 Olympics and touted Peacock’s mission of providing more in-depth coverage of the summer games.

With the games postponed, marketing executives said they had to re-work some of their promotions leading up to the service’s soft launch on Comcast and Cox cable systems (Peacock rolled out to those subscribers in mid-April, with customers receiving the premium ad-supported tier for free).

For years, NBC has secured the rights to both the summer and winter Olympic games, and the network is known for its aggressive promotion of the high-rated games across its broadcast, cable and digital brands. With no games to promote until next year, the company was able to move Peacock into that spotlight.

“It allowed the entire organization, top to bottom, across every single broadcast network, cable network, and digital platform, to singularly focus on this moment versus having sort of bifurcated agendas,” Shapiro told Business Insider.

One thing that might hurt Peacock at launch is a lack of distribution agreement with streaming TV companies Roku and Amazon. Together, the two companies hold 70 percent of the streaming TV hardware market — but as of now, Comcast has not been able to reach an agreement with either service to make Peacock available to millions of users on launch day.

Last month, a source told The Desk discussions between Comcast and Roku are hanging on the amount of commercials Comcast is willing to allow Roku to insert into Peacock shows and movies. Similar issues are impacting discussions between Comcast and Amazon, the financial news channel CNBC reported on Thursday.

A Comcast spokesperson told The Desk negotiations between it and the streaming companies are still in the works, but declined to elaborate beyond that. Comcast has announced distribution agreements with Apple, Google, LG, Vizio and Microsoft to make versions of the Peacock app available on platforms operated by those companies.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).