Peacock is putting a nice feather in its cap, as it has been announced that all Universal Pictures and Focus Features movies will debut on Peacock at most four months after they play in movie theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets. NBC Universal owns Peacock and Universal Pictures, so the arrangement keeps things in the family.
The Peacock streaming app already features thousands of classic TV shows and movies, including The Office and the Harry Potter series, as well as live streaming of NBC sports broadcasts like the Stanley Cup Finals and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. This deal brings the latest big movie titles to the streaming service as it looks to compete in the ever-growing streaming marketplace, which includes Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu and Paramount Plus.
The four month timeline for movies to arrive on streaming is a change from what it had been prior to the pandemic. Pre-COVID, movies wouldn’t hit streaming services until six or seven months after their theatrical release. Now Universal movies will appear on Peacock at some point in the four month window, though what specifically dictates the premiere date is undetermined at this time.
In addition, the deal will allow for Universal movies to play on other streaming services for a finite period of time. In the 18 months following a Universal movie coming to Peacock, there will be a 10 month window where another service will be able to stream the title, the rest of the time it will be exclusive to Peacock. There are no details as to what streamer(s) will be able to license the titles.
Universal’s slate of 2022 movies that will be impacted by this deal include Jurassic World: Dominion, The Bad Guys, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The 355, Halloween Ends and the latest film from Jordan Peele.
A separate deal was also announced that will see Universal develop and produce original films exclusively for Peacock starting in 2022.
This is the latest experiment from the studios and media companies to figure out how to deliver movies to audiences in a post-pandemic world, where they want to balance having films play in theaters and drumming up a box office, but also making their subscription services must-haves and keeping consumers signed up for the long haul.
We’ve already seen HBO Max and Warner Bros. do same day releases in theater and on streaming (only for 2021) and Disney Plus offering certain titles on the streaming service the same day but for a $30 premium fee, like the upcoming Black Widow.
Peacock offers three separate plans that range from free (with ads) to $9.99. Will having the first crack at streaming Universal movies help it break out in a bigger way?
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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