Comcast’s NBCUniversal announced plans on Monday to release a free, ad-supported streaming service, available to anyone who subscribes to a traditional pay-TV service. This service will also include its competitors such as Charter, AT&T, Cox and Dish, expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2020. For those who do not have a subscription to a pay-tv service will be charge around $12 a month, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.
The streaming product will include 1,500 hours of NBC TV shows, including SNL and Parks and Recreation, and hundreds of hours of Universal movies. The company announced that the service will be run by Bonnie Hammer. The person familiar with the matter also stated that NBC’s plans focus on striking deals with the largest pay-TV providers, though it has yet to be accomplished.
Since the service will be free for those that already subscribe to pay-TV, NBC is depending on quick growth of 30 to 40 million users with its service, rather than slowly growing over a paid service and beginning with zero subscribers, as the person noted.
“One of the interesting things about this that makes it different and innovative is that we’ll have a big emphasis on free-to-consumer,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said. “We want to create a platform that has significant scale and can scale quickly. The best way to do that, is make it free to consumers and leverage the fact that NBCUniversal’s sister company is a cable company and now owns Sky.
The company views its streaming service as a large opportunity since there is no long-form, ad-supported streaming service. For instance, Hulu charges $7.99/month, though there are regular ad breaks. Netflix contains long-form content, but it costs a monthly fee as well. On the other hand, YouTube is a primarily short-form, user-generated content that is supported by ads.
According to Burke, the service will include live TV such as news and sports, in addition to on-demand programming. The launch will be in early 2020, meaning there will likely be content focused on the 2020 Summer Olympics in hopes of attracting more consumers to the platform. Burke also said the service will include content from other companies like Sony, Discover and Warner Bros.