Despite taking its name from one of the flashiest animals on the planet, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service is at risk of blending in with the flock.
Set to be unveiled Thursday afternoon at Rockefeller Center, where a 15,000-pound bird constructed for the occasion from shrubbery and lights towers over Midtown tourists, Peacock is the latest in a series of streaming debuts in recent months.
When it goes live in April, Peacock will have a deep library of content and a smattering of originals. So what will distinguish it from Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Hulu and Netflix, other than its affinity for avian references on Twitter?
Its hefty bet on advertising.
Many streaming services, notably Netflix, do not have commercials, relying instead on subscriptions to drive revenue. Peacock plans to offer more than 15,000 hours of content as a vehicle for companies to reach cord-cutters with digital-friendly ads. The service also plans to create a repository for shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show,” content often found on YouTube that NBCUniversal would prefer to bring more securely into the fold.
The company, owned by the cable giant Comcast, will offer three tiers of service: an entirely free, ad-supported version that includes a limited library of shows; a tier expected to cost about $5 a month and include advertising that will feature current seasons as well as popular favorites like “The Office”; and a version without ads at about $10 a month.
In many ways, Peacock mimics Hulu, the streaming service controlled by The Walt Disney Company that predates Disney Plus. It has a similar structure of tiers, and its ad-supported service (at $6 a month) is its most lucrative product, generating an average of about $15 a month per subscriber.
Peacock has nailed down exclusive streaming rights to popular shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” while also lining up reboots of “Saved by the Bell” and “Battlestar Galactica.” A series based on the true crime podcast “Dr. Death,” featuring the actors Jamie Dornan and Alec Baldwin, is coming, as is an adaptation of “Brave New World,” with Demi Moore.
Peacock will also try to attract viewers through a licensing deal with Lionsgate, known for films like the “John Wick” action series, and the NBCUniversal company Telemundo will provide 3,000 hours of Spanish-language original programming. The late-night host Jimmy Fallon, who is trying to pull “The Tonight Show” out of a ratings slide, has also signed on to make Peacock-only content.
The telecommunications giant Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, does not expect Peacock to be profitable in its first five years, executives have said. Comcast, which has 21.4 million video subscribers and 28.2 million broadband subscribers, plans to inject $2 billion into Peacock over its first two years.
NBCUniversal is set to provide details about Peacock pricing during a 4 p.m. rollout event at Studio 8H, the “Saturday Night Live” studio.