NBCU’s Burke: Peacock Will Get to ‘Cruising Altitude’ Quicker Than Subscription Rivals

CEO seeks to differentiate ad-supported streaming service from crush of Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+
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NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke is looking to differentiate his company’s upcoming ad-supported streaming platform, Peacock, amid a crush of big OTT launches in the coming months.

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NBCU CEO Steve Burke

“We’re not doing the same strategy that Netflix and the people chasing Netflix have adopted,” Burke said during parent company Comcast’s third-quarter earnings call this morning. (The event was covered by Deadline Hollywood and numerous other publications.)

Because the platform, set to launch in April, will be freely distributed to the user bases of Comcast and Sky, Burke believes it will enjoy the economics of much higher customer volume early on, relative to subscription streamers.

Related: Broadband Drives Comcast Q3

“I think we’re going to get to cruising altitude much more quickly than a subscription service,” Burke said. “We’re also playing to our strengths. We happen to be part of a company that has 55 million video customers and is the biggest provider of television advertising in the United States.”

Peacock, Burke said, will be “front and center” on Comcast’s Flex platform, a streaming service the company provides to its broadband-only customers.

Meanwhile, Burke also said that Comcast will keep licensing its shows to other companies, and it will not fixate on exclusive content as much as, say, Disney+ or HBO Max.

“Our approach is different,” he said. “It fits the strengths and characteristics of our company well. It’s a very, very interesting time as everybody tries to figure out what their strategy is and we’re very optimistic.”

Related: Comcast Brands New NBCU Streaming Service ‘Peacock,’ Announces Launch Slate

While broadly sketching out NBCU’s strategy for its new streaming service, Burke said that because of competitive reasons, the company will remain quiet about the service “until a month or two before launch.”

NBCU will use its heavy, cross-platform coverage of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo as a promotional “after burner” as it launches the new service, he added.

Peacock will launch as subscription services Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+ simultaneously enter the market, all aiming to break pieces of Netflix’s dominant market share.

“It’s a moment in time and a lot of people are being very very aggressive about it,” Burke said. “I would anticipate that happening until there will inevitably be a slowing down and a shakeout and the market will get a little bit more rational. It’s a moment in time and consumers are making their choices with apps and you want to be aggressive and get in there and make sure your service is one of the consumer’s handful of favorite services.”

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