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Comcast executive fine with Peacock missing Roku, Amazon at launch

Comcast is moving forward with its July 15 launch of Peacock, even if there's no agreement in place to reach most streaming TV devices.

Comcast is moving forward with its July 15 launch of Peacock, even if there's no agreement in place to reach most streaming TV devices.

(Logo: NBCUniversal/Comcast, Graphic: The Desk)

A Comcast executive has downplayed concerns over the availability of the company’s new streaming service Peacock being made available on two of the biggest streaming television platforms at launch.

In an interview with the technology publication CNET on Tuesday, NBCUniversal Digital chairman Matt Strauss said the Comcast-owned service intends to launch on July 15 — even if there’s no agreement to bring the app to Roku or Amazon Fire TV devices.

Combined, Roku and Amazon have around 70 percent of the streaming television hardware market in the United States with a combined user base of around 80 million customers.

Amazon has a reputation for keeping apps off its Fire devices, including Fire TV, if developers and other companies don’t agree to terms it finds favorable. Roku, on the other hand, had the opposite reputation until recently — it was long viewed as developer agnostic, an open space where anyone could develop and distribute an app, until Roku shifted gears and started demanding viewer data and commissions from some of its big-brand developers.

That tactic has kept streaming service HBO Max largely out of the reach of Roku and Amazon users, with the companies demanding AT&T preserve in place an agreement to distribute original and licensed HBO content natively to users while providing access to the bigger library of content on HBO Max.

Similar issues are creeping up in negotiations between Comcast and Roku over the Peacock service: Last month The Desk reported Roku was demanding viewer data and the ability to insert a limited number of commercial advertisements for Peacock’s two advertisement-supported tiers. Comcast agreed to provide a limited amount of viewer data but has resisted Roku’s request to insert commercials while viewers are watching a show or movie on Peacock, the source said.

In a statement last month, a Comcast spokesperson said discussions were continuing with Roku and Amazon but declined to provide specific details. No one at Roku or Amazon returned separate requests for comment.

On Tuesday, Strauss confirmed to CNET the negotiations were continuing, adding that Peacock would launch on July 15 whether an agreements were in place or not.

“Our launch date on July 15, is our launch date,” Strauss said. “We’re in discussions with everybody…we would like to have the app available on all platforms, but we’re committed to launching on the date that we set forth.”

Over the last few weeks, Comcast has confirmed distribution agreements with Apple and Google to provide iOS and Android users with access to Peacock. The app will also be available on Xbox One consoles and natively on a handful of compatible LG and Vizio smart TVs.

Peacock soft-launched to customers of Comcast’s X1 platform — mostly television subscribers, but also Internet customers who have Flex devices — as well as customers of rival cable company Cox Communications in mid-April. Customers of both companies received early access to Peacock’s advertisement-supported premium tier for free; it will cost everyone else $5 a month at launch.

Peacock will also include a free, advertisement-supported tier with a limited library of content and an ultra-premium ad-free tier for $10 a month when it launches on July 15 (Comcast and Cox customers can upgrade to the commercial-free tier for $5 a month).

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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).