Peacock Investors Day Review: A Lot Of ‘SNL’ Alums, Dick Wolf, & Lessons Learned From Apple, Disney & HBO Max

Dominic Patten

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“With 190 days to go to Tokyo, we can proudly say, let the games begin,” declared Mike Tirico today at the Peacock Investors Day in the most streamlined offering from the new additions to the streaming wars so far.

The competition was clearly more than the Summer Games of the XXXII Olympiad, if you know what I mean? Aiming for 30 to 35 million “active accounts” by 2024 for revenue of $2.5 billion, according to head honcho Matt Strauss, Peacock didn’t come to just play. Put another way, based on today’s song and dance, pioneer Netflix, Jeff Bezo’s Amazon and the Marvel and Star Wars containing Disney+ will continue to sleep soundly, but WarnerMedia’s upcoming HBO Max and AppleTV+ might have a few long nights of the digital soul.

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The name may suck, but NBCU’s entry into the streaming wars really took flight in a solid show & tell today. The surprising result, in the increasingly crowded digital environment, was a near Gold medal exertion for the Comcast-owned entity that’s set to launch nationally on July 15 – nine days before the behemoth of the Olympics open in Japan.

Clearly having learned a lesson or two from the past and sometimes problematic presentations by AppleTV+, Disney+ and the sprawling HBO Max affair the past few months, the Matt Strauss run streamer brought in some real producers to make sure it all hung together, front loaded this afternoon with lots of details and math, Olympic promises and a plethora of talent where its competitors unfortunately went for executive overload.

Granted, the whole hootenanny kicked off with outgoing NBCUniversal kingpin Steve Burke doing his best Bob Iger impersonation – which may or may not be a thing among the investor audience.

However, with sports broadcasting icon Tirico, Tina Fey, late-night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, newscasters Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd and CNBC’s Becky Quick onstage in quick succession, the two-hour event moved briskly in a manner that only Disney was able to come close to back in April last year.

Filled with easy to comprehend slides and graphics and having put out embargoed information of big deals like huge swarths of Dick Wolf’s library, a multi-year agreement with Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud network and new shows from Mindy Kaling, SNL alums Fey and Tonight Show host Fallon, the Peacock presentation hit a few potholes with sizzle reels and sneak peeks that were either too much or too little and gratuitous footage of Prince Harry and past Comcast employee of sorts Meghan Markle. Yes, execs Burke, Strauss, plus incoming NBCU CEO Jeff Shell and Comcast overlord Brian Roberts seemed to get their suits off the same rack and the Peacock and NBCUniversal Digital Enterprises chair’s quip about it being “really hard to follow the Olympics” didn’t quite have the landing his well-paid writers probably promised.

However, after the unsurpassable Fey, the onstage powerhouse stints by NBCUniversal Content Studios boss Bonnie Hammer and Advertising and Client Partnerships chief Linda Yaccarino showed where the real action is in this new streamer – the bottom line.

It can’t be stated enough that Peacock has a terrible and deserving of censorship name. Yet, unlike some of the other plus-ing or max-ing newbies to the revolutionary world Netflix built, the service appears to have a realpolitik strategy for revenue growth based more on real numbers than hopes, brand desires and a fear of missing the streaming boat.

Backed by the heavyweight muscle of the top domestic cable operator, Peacock concisely rolled out its three iterations. Beginning with self-proclaimed “early bird” launch in April for subscribers of X1 and Flex, there’s the a free, ad-supported version and the bulkier ad-supported version that will be free to Comcast and Cox Cable subscribers, and $5 for everyone else. Then, packed full of The Office, a new Battlestar Galactica from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, revivals of Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, Fey’s new Girls5Eva comedy series, Yellowstone, the Law & Order franchises, news and sports programming and more, there’s the premium no ads version that clocks in at $5 for Comcast and Cox subscribers and $10 for everyone else.

What made today’s digestible presentation all the more impressive in that glorified accounting is that Peacock went straight for the glory, even if the bird analogies and use of the term “monetize” became drinking games in their abundance.

“Brands are more vulnerable than ever before,” stated the supremely poised Yaccarino to the packed Studio 8H at NBC’s historic NYC HQ. “Without scale you can’t have impact … you won’t get the sales you need to move your stock,” the exec added bluntly in language investors likely either wanted to or need to hear. Sponsoring advertisers will move right up front with the Olympics as their starting line to “get this advertising bird off the ground,” as the NBCU Advertising and Client Partnerships chair laid it out there to the attendees at Rockefeller Center on Thursday.

Long story short – we don’t have any Skywalkers or Game of Thrones but we do have timing and the biggest sporting event in TV history, so you might want to get on board. Also, unlike say AppleTCV+ or HBO Max, Peacock didn’t have to waste precious time explaining their need to exist.

Almost from the video enhanced beginning, Burke offered the big viewership proposition and the digital opportunity and closed the deal – which was a confident pro move that others in the past seemed to avoid when making their pitch to investors and the media. Like a well-considered polemic, the rest of today’s event was backing up the case – and they did it well.

“Happy 2020 everyone!” shouted out Comcast CEO and Chair Roberts hitting the stage as the final speaker of the day. With the confusing HBO Max set to join the latest battlefield of the streaming wars in May, it may be a less than great year for some than others as more and more digital outlets look for consumers’ money. Based on today’s comprehensive display, Peacock looks set to come out a winner in that clash.

Let the battle commence.

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