Deeper Dive—Android promos, Roku apps and other questions facing Peacock

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s upcoming AVOD/SVOD streaming service, is fewer than three weeks out from its July 15 national launch and key questions remain.

Why do Android users get free Peacock Premium and others don’t?

NBCUniversal this week meaningfully expanded the distribution list for Peacock. The service was already on Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms and had booked space on Apple and Microsoft Xbox devices for its upcoming launch. This week, the company added Vizio and LG smart TVs along with Google devices including Android, Android TV, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices.

However, only Android and Android TV users are getting three free months of Peacock Premium, which will be priced at $4.99 per month. While it stands out that the promotion is only extended to one platform right now, it’s likely that it’s not exclusive to Android and that Comcast/NBCU has and will explore similar promotions with all of its distribution partners.

NBCU is likely considering promotions right now to expand reach for Peacock. The ad-supported tier is likely the primary focus and growing the amount of active users for Peacock will help raise CPMs for the service.

Will Peacock reach distribution agreements with Amazon and Roku?

If Peacock really wants to reach a large connected TV audience, it will need to get distribution deals done with Amazon and Roku, which combined have more than 80 million active users. HBO Max is now more than one month out from its launch in May and it is still at an impasse with Amazon and Roku. Reports have suggested that Peacock may also be at loggerheads with those platforms, too.

However, there are some distinct differences. Both Amazon and Roku have significant amounts of HBO Now subscribers on their platforms and they want those subscribers to get access to HBO Max just like so many other HBO subscribers on other platforms have been able to do. According to a new report from The Desk’s Matthew Keys, AT&T offered Roku a way to continue selling HBO to its subscribers but asked the company to take a smaller share of the subscription revenue. Roku reportedly declined the offer.

With Peacock – which has no installed base to account for – the negotiations are likely centered on advertising. Keys said Roku is asking Peacock for viewership data and the ability to insert a limited number of ads. NBCU has reportedly offered up some data but has pushed back against Roku inserting ads in Peacock shows and movies, which will be focused on addressable ads and lighter ad loads.

Advertising is a major part of Roku’s business, which relies on its platform and not its players for most of its revenue growth. So, it makes sense that Roku is reportedly pushing for Peacock ad inventory. It’s likely that Amazon, which has a massive advertising business, is seeking similar conditions in its negotiations with Peacock.

For Amazon, Roku and Peacock, the talks come down to subscription revenue share, advertising and integration questions about who owns the customer – their viewership data but also in terms of just knowing the customer and having more control over the product lifecycle.

According to Keys, talks between Roku and Comcast are still underway and an agreement is “still likely” before July 15.

What has Comcast/NBCU learned so far about Peacock?

Peacock has been in the unique position of having a large test audience before its national launch. The service launched on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex platforms in April; the company said it ended the first quarter with 31.9 million total customer relationships.

Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh was asked last week at an investor conference if there were any learnings so far about Peacock.

“So, it's super early, but we're ahead of our internal expectations by a bit. So, I think there's enthusiasm that we got something exciting, and it'll have to keep iterating and innovating. But so far, so good, and we're excited to get the national launch done,” he said.

If Comcast is indeed slightly ahead of its expectations for Peacock, that means it has lots of usage data it can use to finetune the experience before it goes nationwide.