NBCUniversal has today confirmed plans to launch a new direct-to-consumer streaming service. The service is expected to arrive in early 2020.
The service will become available in two primary forms. The first will be an ad-supported version of the service that is made available for free to NBCUniversal's pay-TV subscribers. It will also be made available to Comcast (NBCU's parent company) and Sky subscribers as well.
The second version of the service will launch as an ad-free version but will come at a cost to users. This version is designed for those who are not existing customers but still looking to access the same content.
At present, there are no details on pricing for the ad-free and open-to-all version.
The ad-free, direct-to-consumer version marks a major change for NBCU as its content is typically only available through a live TV subscription through a provider. However, once the new service launches those looking for access to just the NBCU catalog will be able to do so without paying for other content they don't want.
This seems to be part of a much wider industry change that is now taking place where much of the TV landscape is moving to more of an a la carte design where consumers can pick and choose the content they want, and only the content they want.
Although a big move for NBCU and the industry in general, it is only one of those that is now happening with Disney also in preparation to launch its own direct-to-consumer service, as well as WarnerMedia – the brand founded from the ashes of the Time Warner acquisition by AT&T.
The WarnerMedia solution is expected to arrive earlier (in late 2019) than the NBCU option and will in effect mark only one of the options AT&T offers to the public. As AT&T already provides, and will continue to, an option for those looking for a more robust live TV service through its DIRECTV NOW solution, and an option for those looking for a budget live TV experience through WatchTV. In contrast, the new WarnerMedia service will focus more on WarnerMedia-owned content in the same way the NBCU solution will.
Disney's direct-to-consumer solution is also expected to arrive in late 2019.
The announcement today did not specifically comment on device support although it very much stands to reason this service will become available on Android devices in due course, including on smartphones.
This has been the general trend of late for content makers, providers and operators as the consumption habits of consumes has changed massively over the last couple of years. Not only are consumers not cutting the cord more often than before, but they are opting to watch live and on-demand content on more device than ever before. Therefore any company or brand looking to capitalize on the varying needs of consumers will need to account for varying device access points, including smartphones.
NBC also did not go into specifics on what content will or won't be available through the new service, instead opting to confirm the new service will include "homegrown original programming" in addition to some "content from outside partners." Adding that it's service will be "different than those presently in the market" in part due to the service focusing "on the company's strengths."
As part of the preparations for the launch of the new streaming service, NBCUniversal also announced a number of managerial changes.