January 15, 2019
NBCUniversal Planning a Streaming Subscription Service, May Take Back ‘The Office’ from Netflix
If you thought there were already too many streaming subscription services out there, you’re not going to like what NBCUniversal has planned for their library of TV shows and movies from NBC and Universal Pictures.
Joining the likes of the forthcoming Disney and Warner Bros. streaming subscription services, media conglomerate NBCUniversal is creating their own ad-supported direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service that would be full of shows from NBC and movies from Universal Pictures, as well as original content. That might not sound too enticing to some of you, but you might pay more attention when you hear that the NBCUniversal streaming service may take The Office away from Netflix after 2021.
Deadline has word on the NBCUniversal streaming service in development as the company makes some key moves in reorganizing the executive team to launch the ad-supported direct-to-consumer service in 2020. The NBCUniversal streaming service doesn’t have a name yet, but it will launch with about 15,000 hours of programming derived from the wide array of broadcast, cable, film, news and sports.
NBCUniversal is confident in creating a new streaming subscription service simply because of the foundation of users who will have access to the service right from the get-go. That’s because the NBCUniversal streaming service will be available to users who already pay for Comcast and Sky cable services across the United States and Europe. But what if you don’t have a cable subscription?
Right now, the expectation is that an NBC Universal streaming service subscription with ads will costs users $5 a month. But much like Hulu, there will be an ad-free version of the service available for between $12 and $14 a month. But is the library of content that NBCUniversal has at their disposal worth that much for users to want to pay for it individually? That might be the case of certain programs start becoming less easily available in other streaming libraries, and that’s where shows like The Office come into play.
After announcing their streaming plans, Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, said it’s a “safe assumption” that the company will be looking to get titles like The Office back from Netflix, which has a deal to stay there through 2021. They’ll also be looking to get their library of DreamWorks Animation films away from Netflix when those deals are up too. So if there are any favorite NBC shows or Universal movies you love watching elsewhere, you might end up wanting to pay for the NBCUniversal streaming service in order to keep them at your disposal.
Netflix might not be the only place losing titles when NBCUniversal launches their streaming service and starts collecting their own properties again. There are plenty of NBC shows situated at Hulu, but it’s likely that some of them will stay there. After all, NBC owns a 30% stake in Hulu, which is why some of their shows are situated over there now. But remember that Disney is in the midst of closing a deal to buy 21st Century Fox, which will give them 60% control over Hulu. That might create a conflict of interest for NBCUniversal, enough so that they might consider selling their stake. But then again, they’d be giving up 25 million subscribers and plenty of profit if they did. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.
The big question is just how many streaming services customers are willing to pay for. Both the Disney and Warner Bros. streaming services launch in 2019, and let’s not forget that Apple has their own subscription streaming service coming soon too. That’s on top of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, not to mention cable channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. We’re getting close to having a la carte television programming, albeit in a form that we never really considered, but it’s an awful lot of content to keep track of across a growing number of services. What will be the breaking point for customers?
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