The bird is the word: joining in the streaming wars, NBCUniversal announced Tuesday the launch of its long-awaited streaming service called Peacock, referring to the bird that represents the iconic NBC logo. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, NBC used Peacock in its slogan Proud As A Peacock, though its programming (Supertrain, Pink Lady And Jeff, etc.) wasn’t anything to be exactly proud of.
The new service launches in April 2020 with over 15,000 hours of content, including off-network dramas, comedies, feature films from the Universal library and new programming.
New programming include dramas Dr. Death (based from a true crime podcast) and Brave New World and One Of Us Is Lying, each adapted from their respective novels; Comedies include new season of AP Bio and newcomers Rutherford Falls and Straight Talk from producers Rashida Jones and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Of note are three reboots of classic TV series: Battlestar Galatica, another edition of the ABC and Sci-Fi Channel science fiction series; Punky Brewster, the 1984-88 NBC/syndicated comedy starring Soleli Moon Frye (which is more of a sequel), and an updated version of Saved By The Bell with original cast members Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkeley. In an interesting side note, both Punky Brewster and Saved By The Bell were sold in off-network syndication by other companies due to the then-fin-syn rules prohibiting NBC from doing so. Columbia Pictures Television (now known as Sony Pictures TV) paid a whopping $40 million for the rights to Punky in 1986 in order to continue the show in first-run syndication after NBC canceled it. Sony still holds rights to the 1980s shows.
In addition, NBC went to outside companies to acquire content: Sony for Married…With Children and King of Queens; CBS Television Distribution for Cheers and Fraiser (both were Paramount Television productions); and HBO for Everybody Loves Raymond as CBS only owns the rights to distribute the program on linear TV as all DVD/streaming/home video rights belong to HBO. The Raymond acquisition is odd given HBO is launching its own streaming service next year, HBO Max.
Notably absent is the entire Law & Order library of 1,500 episodes stretching numerous series and the Chicago trilogy of Fire, Med, and P.D. Creator Dick Wolf is currently shopping around for the best deal for his shows.
In addition, Peacock is providing 3,000 hours from Spanish-language network Telemundo, which NBCUniversal owns.
The real question now is how are consumers can afford to pay for all of these streaming services? In addition to Peacock and HBO Max, new services are coming from Disney, BET, and Apple, you have existing services Netflix, Hulu, CBS All-Access, Amazon, and a ton of other OTT services, including HBO Now, ESPN Plus, and others. I suppose we’ll find out soon.