NBCU is not getting left in the dust as competitors like Amazon, AT&T and Disney plan their direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services.
On Monday, the broadcast titan said it will launch its yet-to-be-named streaming service in early 2020. The service will provide ad-supported content to pay-TV subscribers, including 90 million Comcast-connected homes in the United States and 52 million from Comcast Cable and Sky internationally. NBCU said it will offer original content and more from select partners, but did not elaborate on who those partners might be.
There will also be an ad-free version of the streaming service, but NBCU did not disclose the price.
With Disney and AT&T dropping their own DTC streaming services this year, consumers will have more streaming services at their disposal than ever. But are there simply too many?
“How many of these things will consumers really want?” said Forrester TV and video analyst Jim Nail. “As far as I can tell, all of the network streaming apps have pretty much gone nowhere. I think there’s still a lot of question about what combo it takes [for viewers to cut the cord].”
Hulu and Netflix have fundamentally different offerings that, when combined, get close to persuading consumers to cut the cord, Nail said. Hulu offers network primetime shows plus its own original content, while Netflix offers its own originals in addition to a deep library of content.
Amazon fits into this mix too with Prime Video, but people come to Amazon Prime “for the advantage of free shipping,” not necessarily the content, Nail added.
While the rise in OTT is clear, the explosion of content will make discoverability more challenging.
“It does create the problem of finding content easily, which consumers already struggle with,” AlphonsoTV founder and CEO Ashish Chordia told AdExchanger. “When you have CBS All Access and [soon-to-be] DTC from Disney and NBCU, the challenge is that consumers have more choice, which is great, but finding stuff to watch becomes harder.”
NBCU’s new DTC offering has prompted a change in leadership. Bonnie Hammer, formerly chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, was promoted to chairman of direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises for NBCUniversal. She will oversee the streaming service’s evolution and build a team from executives at Sky’s OTT offering, NOW TV and NBCUniversal.