Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal says that most titles from its movie studio business will be available exclusively on its Peacock online video service as early as 45 days after their theatrical and premium video on demand release. This new distribution model will begin with releases in 2022 from studio brands including Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Animation.
“Prioritizing the theatrical experience and ‘eventizing’ our world class content remains the cornerstone of our business,” said Peter Levinsohn, the vice chairman and chief distribution officer at the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “By ensuring our upcoming slate has both a theatrical window and timely Peacock debut, we satisfy the needs and expectations for key stakeholders across the spectrum, from our filmmakers and producing partners, to cinemagoers and Peacock subscribers.”
This new windowing structure is an attempt to maintain a commitment to theatrical distribution while providing Peacock with premium programming to reach the broadest possible audience in the battle for online viewers.
“As we continue investing in the most valued and sought-after content for Peacock, films are essential to that mix,” said Kelly Campbell, the president of Peacock, who recently joined from Hulu.
The new arrangements will not affect existing premium video-on-demand deals, but it does contract the traditional pay-television window, which was around 120 days before the pandemic. Some Universal releases, including Jurassic World: Dominion, are expected to retain this more traditional release model.
However, it is clear that the pandemic has provided an opportunity for movie studios to experiment further with distribution models.
Peacock is available on a wide range of platforms, including Roku, Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio. Eligible Comcast and Cox customers can also receive Peacock Premium as part of their service. Peacock is also available on Sky in Europe.
Peacock has a free tier with advertising and a premium version starting at $5 a month. In the last quarter NBCUniversal reported adding “a few million” monthly active accounts. The company had previously reported having 54 million signups and about 20 million active users.
Other Hollywood studios, including Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount, have previously already announced that at least for 2022 their releases movies will have 45-day exclusive theatrical runs before debuting on the streaming services of their respective parent companies.