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How will Peacock change the US OTT market?

by Emily Wilford

31 July 2020 11:04am

Since its launch, OTT has come to the forefront of video production and distribution, innovating both content creation and content consumption. The Grabyo 2020 Value of Video report found a majority of users subscribing to a minimum of two platforms, making it a multi-billion dollar industry.

Bypassing traditional cable networks and using the internet, services are delivered directly to consumers when and where they want them. Provided via a personalized app or desktop player, OTT services are now served on a multitude of connected devices both in-home and on the go. Providing a variety of content including live sport, TV shows, music and films. As more players enter the market, each platform needs to ensure the content is unique and exclusive.

Peacock enters the market

In mid-July Comcast NBCUniversal became the latest broadcaster to launch an OTT service. Peacock is an ad-supported video streaming platform with a two-tier premium option. The first free-to-access OTT service in the US. Peacock is available on a large majority of platforms, and will be competing with a host of established U.S providers including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Apple TV. The free version will give users access to over 13,000 hours of content from a range of studiosincluding content from the Golf Channel, E! And others,Users will also be able to watch archive programmes such as The Office and weekly releases of Peacock’s original shows, The Blacklist.

With a premium subscription, users will be able to enjoy Peacock’s live sports offering. Its newly acquired rights include the English Premier League, NFL Wild Card, and the Tokyo Olympics. Unlike other services, Peacock is currently unavailable on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. There are also some other features that users will be accustomed to, widely available on other platforms. There are no individual user profiles, app downloads, or streaming in 4K HDR with Dolby Vision or Atmos. Although Peacock is free-to-access, it does not have the same advanced user experience as many established streaming platforms.

How does Peacock measure up?

Grabyo’s 2020 Value of Video report found 47% of US users are willing to pay $11-$35 per month for streaming services. For that price point users expect personalization, multiple user profiles and original content. However, Peacocks’ entry level subscription is free, providing a lower quality viewing experience and adverts. Users could compromise on a lesser experience for a free service but they won’t compromise on content. Peacock will need to rely on its original content to attract subscribers.

One of the biggest competitors that Peacock faces is Netflix. Netflix is continuing to experience yearly growth in subscribers and content consumption, investing over $15 billion each year for the past two years to create Netflix original series. The platform’s powerful algorithm serves content that is trending as well as recommended for the individual user, allowing promotion of limited series and originals directly to users. Widely available and with a selection of originals and blockbuster films, the streaming service is a benchmark for what users expect.

Then there is Disney+. With an infamous archive of films, programmes and TV shows the entertainment giant launched globally in springtime. Having purchased both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, Disney users can access a multitude of franchises and the full catalogue of animated classics dating back to the 1940s. The Disney+ launch was timely as users across the globe were encouraged to stay at home, increasing second-screen viewing and overall an increase in video consumption. The user experience on the platform is similar to that of Netflix but the exclusive content on Disney+ is unrivalled, with the recent addition of the Broadway production Hamilton.

Apple TV, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu are all competitors for Peacock, however, there are all premium services. One of the big selling points for all these services is the seamless user experience, multiple individual user-profiles and advert-free binge-watching. As Peacock blurs the line between OTT and traditional cable channels, it could change viewer perception on cutting the cord.

Live events on OTT

As the battle of quality video content continues, live events are fast becoming a regular feature on OTT services to further enhance the user experience. DAZN specialises in live sports, operating in select markets across the globe. The user experience is flawless and the platform is competitively priced. However, with the limited market, other platforms are taking their opportunity. Amazon Prime Video made large strides over the past year in the market with coverage of the 2019 US Open. Peacocks’ top tier premium service will allow users access to their live sport but little is known about the experience itself.

As sport is becoming more widely available, rights owners are launching their own video streaming platforms,NFL Game Pass, MLB.TV and Golf TV are all examples of leagues and competitions maximizing exclusive content. Live-streaming of games and matches as well as VOD content are included and are available on the go on mobile-devices. One of the main differentiators is users being able to pick and choose what they watch, whether it’s one specific match or a season-long campaign of a chosen team. The paid for subscription allows for full personalisation, with Peacock entering the market with paid-for sports streaming, there is yet to be an ad-supported version.

Peacock Premium cable bundle

Peacock premium will be included as part of a cellular contract with Xfinity and Cox Communications. As with many other platforms, being part of a ‘bundle deal’ is common practice to entice users and uptake. A trial has been available since April for Comcast customers to gather feedback and make any required changes or updates before mass adoption. It can also be used as a way for cable companies to explore streaming platforms and monitor user behavior. As OTT is more widely adopted, cable networks will be monitoring the market closely as consumers rapidly adopt streaming and lean closer towards cutting the cord on cable for good.

Originals and live will be key to platforms success

Platform originals and live events will be crucial to the individual platforms securing users. As studio produced programmes can be added and removed across platforms, the ultimate test will be what are users willing to pay for. As Peacock introduces the first free viewing service in the US, the lack of financial commitment might positively impact subscribers but usage rates could be affected. It is impossible to predict the effect Peacock will have on the market as a whole. It will make users consider how much and what they are willing to pay for to access OTT video services. Peacock creates the opportunity for users to trial OTT services without having to commit financially, experimenting with a combination of cable and internet services.


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