Peacock dives into interactive video for 'The Real Housewives' series

NBCUniversal’s Peacock is testing an interactive video format for “The Real Housewives” series, allowing viewers to access behind-the-scenes footage and other exclusive features.

Peacock unveiled the product at BravoCon, which took place in New York City this past weekend. Event attendees caught a glimpse of the new features in an episode from “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip.”

Viewers watching the episode encountered a series of contextual opt-in dialogs. Selecting a dialog unlocks a side stream, where Peacock users can tap into interactive elements like exclusive interviews, unreleased footage, cast reactions and more.

Once they have accessed the interactive options, viewers can jump back into the episode. Alternatively, they can choose not to engage with the content and just watch the episode uninterrupted.

Peacock is currently testing the interactive format on Roku devices, and it will officially launch next year with the third season of “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip.”

An NBCU representative confirmed to Fierce Video the features will only be available on Peacock’s premium subscription tier, as that’s the only way to access “The Real Housewives” and other Bravo shows on the service.

John Jelley, SVP of product and user experience at Peacock, said in a statement the interactive video feature “transforms viewing into an interactive journey of discovery and personalization through multiple vantage points.”

“Seamlessly integrating exclusive footage at just the right moment, users can now take control of how they watch the scenes that break through the zeitgeist, and we are thrilled to offer this powerful storytelling tool to Hollywood’s content creators, visionaries and originators,” he added.

This isn’t the first time Peacock has dabbled in interactive streaming. At this year’s NewFronts, Peacock showcased two ad formats geared toward personalization. For instance, viewers might see an ad for a popular brand in their region, then they are prompted to buy the product through a QR code or other interactive elements.

NBCU also wants to leverage the metaverse and augmented reality to improve sequential storytelling for ads, as NBCU’s Josh Feldman told Fierce Video earlier this year.

Peacock is steadily growing its user base, with NBCU Jeff Shell recently disclosing the paid subscriber tally is now at 15 million – plus 30 million monthly active users on the free tier.

Aside from the free tier, which boasts over 10,000 hours of content with commercials, Peacock offers a premium plan with ads ($4.99 per month) and Premium Plus, a more expensive plan but ad-free ($9.99 per month).

Peacock is an interesting example of a streaming service, as TVRev’s Alan Wolk points out in a recent column, because it “goes against the conventional wisdom that you need at least one big streaming hit to gain subscribers.”

The service touts exclusive access to various third-party content, like Big Ten Saturday Night Football and the upcoming prequel series to the “John Wick” movie trilogy – along with NBCU’s linear programming lineup.

“Peacock already has a lot of the type of programming NBCU is good at, programming that does not attempt to replicate HBO, and that’s going to help them set themselves apart from the other SVOD services in the years to come,” Wolk wrote.