Another streaming service.
That statement, accompanied by the sighs of a thousand-million people, spread out across all of America today when NBC Universal announced the details behind their new streaming service.
No, it isn’t NBC Max or NBC Plus or Universal Plus Premiere or The More You Know or Dick Wolf’s Streaming Service. No. They’ve decided to pay homage to the logo of NBC all these years and give it the rainbow critter-inspired name Peacock.
Generally, it’s an OK name until you do some research and find out about the behavioral patterns of a peacock. Namely: a peacock is a forest bird that nests on the ground where predators can easily get at them. All species of peacocks are terrestrial feeders, in that they often eat whatever lands on the ground at their feet; i.e. the easy gets. They are also prone to cause territorial fights with other members of their kind and can sometimes have a short attention span and get confused when there are too many distractions around them.
Ironically, after revealing today’s Peacock pricing and content lists, we can confidently say that choosing the name Peacock is actually quite appropriate given the kinds of decisions and strategies the new streaming service has employed. So, why don’t we hit them each one at a time?
First, the logistics and pricing, which to be quite honest are confusing and distract us immensely (like the peacock or peafowl). So, the service is being rolled out by NBC Universal and Comcast, it will arrive on April 15th on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex (??) video platforms. But if you don’t have Xfinity X1 or know what Flex is, you’ll have to wait until July 15th, at which point it will supposedly be available on other platforms. It will come in three versions. One will be free with ads. One will be more robust that will be free with ads, but only free to Comcast and Cox Cable subscribers (oh, hi Cox!). There will also be a version that is $5 for everyone else who doesn’t have Comcast or Cox, although if you have Flex but not Cox, but Comcast but definitely not Xfinity X1, I’m not quite sure if you get something for free, have to pay, or if you just get free migraine medicine for that headache all of this is causing you right now as you read it.
But wait, there’s more!
If you don’t have Comcast and Xfinity X1 and you don’t have Flex, and you aren’t a Comcast subscriber or a Cox subscriber you can get it on other, unnamed, additional platforms on a National Launch date of July 15th. And if you don’t use your 4th of July fireworks on July 4th and save them, you can trade them into Flex for $2.50 off a free month of the National Rollout version on unnamed platforms if and only if you know how to spell Cox.
Are you like Peacock and do you have a short-attention span or are prone to get into terrestrial fights like Peacock is going to get into after realizing they can’t possibly offer up all these confusing options and choosing to simplify the offering and marketing message to consumers by streamlining this whole affair? Huh?
But what about the content? Heck, content is king for any streaming service. But if you’re a peacock, who are terrestrial feeders and love to feed on anything that falls at their feet instead of forage for the tougher, more high-end culinary gets…well, you’ll get what you get. Hmm. Sounds like a wonderfully appropriate marketing tag line!
You’ll Get What You Get — Peacock from NBC Universal!
Here we go again, people. Peacock and the peacock are one in the same. This list of launch content isn’t anything but what seemingly fell at the feet of this peacock. The easy gets. The available gets. The gets that, well, didn’t require much work to get at all.
Take a look at the content list, which was revealed today. The service will make available a whopping thirty-three shows that you may or may not have seen. They include shows like 30 Rock (seen it), Battlestar Galactica (seen it), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (seen it), Cheers (totally seen it), Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med (didn’t need to see it). You’ll have the opportunity to watch Chrisley Knows Best (huh?), Covert Affairs (seen it), Downton Abbey (seen it all, and the movie), Everybody Loves Raymond (seen it), Frasier (watching it right now on cable), Friday Night Lights (have the DVDs) and The George Lopez Show (this was a show?). You’ll also get House, Keeping up with the Kardashians, King of Queens, every single Law & Order episode you’ve already seen the “Law” portion of, all the seasons of Married with Children you saw when FOX first launched, Monk, The Office (which you saw on Netflix), Parks and Recreation (which you just finished on Netflix), Parenthood, Psych, Royal Pains, SNL (which you watch on Hulu), Superstore, Two and a Half Men, Will & Grace and Yellowstone.
That’s it. The terrestrial trappings found on the floor of the forest at the peacock’s feet. Ready for the taking. Because no one really wanted them in the first place.
Ah, you Peacock. You’re a pesky fellow.
To be fair, there are some Originals on Peacock. Shows that the powers that be decided to double down on so that people could really get the value out of their free Comcast X1 experience or the $5 bucks they ponied up for Monk. Some of those shows include Hart to Hart (with Kevin Hart), Girls5Eva about a one-hit wonder group from Tina Fey, a few BBC shows like The Capture and Lady Parts that will be repurposed on Peacock and an Untitled Basketball docuseries. Somewhere in there, Battlestar Galactica will return as well. Ah, one shining beacon of hope. BSG. You know what callback is coming, now, dontcha?
Peacock is pea-cooked.
It’s a tough world out there. It’s a streaming battleground where your girth of content and the chaff of your service has got to be big enough that it can complement the smaller amount of originals you are developing. That equation must keep people engaged, continuing to pay the monthly subscription fee, and generally decent enough to not encourage them to take the time to power up that laptop and cancel your service.
Does Peacock have what it takes to keep that from happening?
From this vantage point, they don’t. At least, not yet. It’s a confusing message, with a lackluster content launch and originals that don’t (yet) inspire. That doesn’t mean it won’t. It just doesn’t look like it will out of the box.
A lot can happen between now and then, however.
There’s a lot of services launching and fighting that terrestrial fight on the floor of the forest of America. Some will fail, some will fall, and some like the Peacock might be wily enough to distract their enemies long enough to gouge out their eyes and live to fight another day.
We haven’t seen the Peacock yet, so we can’t say for sure. But on first glance? We know what we’re cooking for dinner.
And it ain’t an Impossible Burger.