NBC's Peacock will try to differentiate itself from Netflix, Disney+ with live streaming element, tiered pricing structure

Key Points
  • NBCUniversal is looking to differentiate its streaming service Peacock from rivals through its pricing structure and user interface.
  • There will be a free, advertising-supported version of Peacock, a limited-advertising version for about $5 per month and an advertising-free version for about $10 per month, sources say.
  • Comcast subscribers and, eventually, other pay-TV subscribers will get the limited-advertising version included for no extra charge.
(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

When streamers first log on to NBCUniversal's new streaming service Peacock, they may get something they won't see on Netflix, Disney+ or HBO Max — live video.

Users will be greeted by streaming content, similar to turning on traditional television, according to people familiar with the matter. The showcased video could be a live offering from NBC News Now, NBC's free streaming news service that will integrate with Peacock, or an on-demand show, said the people, who asked not to be named because the product is still confidential.

Different versions of Peacock are still being beta-tested, as the service won't launch until April, the people said.

Outgoing NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke is attempting to differentiate Peacock from its streaming competition, most notably by offering an advertising-supported version of the product for free to everyone, CNBC reported last month.

NBCUniversal executives are trying to position Peacock as a valuable streaming service while not cannibalizing the traditional pay-TV business. NBCUniversal owns a number of cable TV stations, including CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, USA, E!, Golf Channel and others.

Peacock will include more than 15,000 hours of content, including new originals such as a "Saved By The Bell" reboot with members of the original cast and "Dr. Death," based on the popular podcast. The streaming service will include older series that aired on NBC including "The Office" (beginning in 2021), "Cheers" and "Friday Night Lights." Burke will help lead a presentation of Peacock at an investor day on Jan. 16, one of the people said.

Peacock isn't expected to include the 2020 Olympics coverage or NBC broadcast content, one of the people said. NBCUniversal executives are sensitive to maintaining the value of sports rights and other content that helps support fees for its broadcast network and cable channels, said the person.

Peacock's tiered pricing structure

There will be two tiers of Peacock that require payment — a limited-advertising version that will cost about $5 per month and an advertising-free version that will cost about $10 per month, the people said. The Information first reported the details of the tiered pricing. Both tiers will include Peacock's full suite of content.

The free advertising-supported tier of Peacock will have limited content as compared with the $5 and $10 versions, two of the people said. The free version will likely not include the full series of "The Office," for which NBC paid $500 million, one of the people said.

Comcast subscribers will also get access to Peacock's entire library with limited ads. Eventually, pay-TV subscribers for other companies, such as AT&T's DirecTV, Dish and Charter, may also get the limited-ad version of Peacock included for no extra charge with their cable subscription. That will require back-end authentication technology verification that hasn't yet been installed in Peacock, one of the people said.

An NBCUniversal spokesperson declined to comment.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.

Sources: Peacock streaming service likely to be free for all
Sources: Peacock streaming service likely to be free for all