The streaming fragmentation war is moving fast, and today’s new contender comes from Comcast, most notably its NBCUniversal subsidiary, which finally took the wraps off its NBC Peacock service on Tuesday after months of rumors.
The official site is currently sparse on details, but NBCUniversal has started distributing a huge list of anticipated new and legacy series coming to Peacock when it launches in “April 2020”. In all, NBCUniversal estimates “15,000 hours” of content on that initial launch. No pricing information has been added yet.
To review: Peacock is just the latest to join existing “mainstream” services Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube TV and CBS All Access, as well as November’s Disney+ and Apple TV+ and next year’s HBO Max. That doesn’t even count the proliferation of “niche” streaming services ranging from the anime-focused Crunchyroll to the proudly pretentious Criterion.
Brave old reboots
What are so many hours of NBCUniversal content made up of? A brand new Battlestar Galactica reboot is of course the obvious point of excitement around these parts. The other big sci-fi offering in the news today is an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel brave new worldbut the unproven cast and showrunner (David Wiener, who has worked on a Walking Dead TV spin-off) don’t inspire much confidence at the moment.
Two other Peacock-exclusive reboots headlined today’s news: Saved by the bell and Punky Brewster† Both promise to bring back the original child stars of that series. In PunkyIn this case, actor Soleil Moon Frye returns to the titular role as “single mother of three.” In the meantime, Saved by the bell promises to bring back at least two original actors, and… well, let’s just read the exact series pitch, because you wouldn’t believe me if I paraphrased it:
When California Governor Zack Morris finds himself in trouble for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes sending the affected students to the top-performing schools in the state, including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the underprivileged Bayside kids a much-needed and hilarious dose of reality.
(Maybe they should mention it Saved by the DeVos?) Strangely, the description of that series doesn’t mention original Zack actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, but rather cameo roles from Mario Lopez (Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie). Just for the sake of chaos, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they somehow cast Dustin Diamond (Screech) in the new Zack-as-Governor role.
The rest of today’s list features a mix of scripts, talk shows and “reality” fares, with existing network series AP Bio be shuffled to the Peacock side of things. Some new shows are simply listed as “pilot,” perhaps indicating that they’ll only get an April 2020 tease before a fuller episode count is revealed later. We also don’t know if the service will dump entire series at launch for the sake of stream-bing or if Peacock will operate more like a traditional TV network with a weekly drop for its comedy and drama series. We really have no idea how the service will work — or how parent company Comcast will get Comcastic in terms of required hardware, cable TV subscriptions, or Comcast member discounts.
Classic series – and a few will have to wait
In terms of legacy series, we have the following list of English-language content expected to launch on Peacock in April. While many of these are NBC classics, a few of these series were made famous on networks like CBS and Fox, but NBCUniversal probably owns the distribution rights.
- Bates Motel
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- Chrisley knows best
- secret affairs
- Downton Abbey
- Everyone loves Raymond
- Friday night lights
- Keeping up with the Kardashians
- The king of queens
- Married with children
- The real housewives
- royal pains
- Saturday Night Live
- Super store
- 30 Rock
- top chef
- Will & Grace
We already knew that NBCUniversal was planning its own streaming service, as the company announced in June that it had secured the rights to broadcast. The office online – taking the series away from its current domestic streaming home of Netflix. Since that deal doesn’t expire until January 2021, today’s announcement confirms that Peacock will have to wait before stepping into Scranton. A similar exclusivity deal prevents Parks and Recreation from launch on Peacock to October 2020.
An interesting tidbit buried in the news: Three movie studios are lining up to make “original movies” exclusively for the service. Those are all Comcast subsidiaries: Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and DreamWorks Animation. We can’t imagine Universal will relegate its upcoming Super Mario movie to streaming exclusive status, but we’ll have to wait to hear exactly which movies they’re relegating to the Peacock bin.
All of this comes at near-perfect business timing in terms of Disney acquiring a majority stake in Hulu in May, where series like Brooklyn 99 have lived for some time. It’s clear that Comcast seized the Hulu stock buyout as an opportunity to build its own competitive pay service, and an 11-month period between the series’ development and launch is standard for network television.