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Only four-percent of those who have signed up to Peacock have chosen to go with the $9.99 Premium Plus plan, according to a new report. Peacock uses a multi-tier format where consumers can stream content for free, opt for an ad-supported premium experience for $4.99 per month, or go ad-free with the Premium Plus plan. Apparently, the ad-free experience is proving to be the least popular option.
Due to this approach, understanding where exactly Peacock sits in the market is a little harder to do. For example, NBCUniversal recently confirmed that Peacock ended 2020 with 33 million sign-ups. As the number includes free and paying users, how many are actually paying for the service remained unknown.
According to a new report, the number of subscribers who are using the service on a regular basis is much lower, while the number paying for the most premium experience is very low. The details come from The Information and are based on viewed “data from an internal NBCU presentation.” According to the report, Peacock had 11.3 million monthly active ad-supported accounts. The report does not specify when this was, other than “recently.”
In addition, the reports states that only four-percent of those signing up to the service have gone with the Peacock Premium Plus plan. The clear takeaway being the majority of subscribers either opt for the free version, or at best, the $4.99 ad-supported plan. Neither of which are ideal for the service, considering the heightened reliance on ads for revenue.
A combined HBO Max & Peacock service?
The grander point made in the report is that NBCUniversal has a problem and one that may force it to rely more heavily on licensing and distribution deals, especially as its own resources to invest in original content have been further limited by the effects of the pandemic. In fact, the report goes so far as to suggest that NBCU could look to a merger, and possibly with WarnerMedia – the AT&T arm behind the rebranding of HBO to HBO Max.
The reason WarnerMedia is specifically named is the suggestion that, it too, is struggling to attract subscribers. Especially when considering that a significant number of current HBO Max subscribers were existing HBO subscribers already. While those subscribers have since gained access to considerably more content, the price they pay each month has not changed. The argument made is that the two services are in similar positions, albeit for different reasons, and both struggling to compete in a world where Netflix and Disney+ dominate.
Whether or not any sort of partnership between NBC and WarnerMedia happens, Peacock has been making its presence felt, resulting in changes to the way popular content is distributed. Not only has Peacock taken over a lot of NBCUniversal’s sports portfolio, including English Premier League, but a recent report indicated that NBCSN is likely to shut down before the end of this year. The suggestion being even more content will move over to Peacock or be distributed via some of the company’s more popular networks, such as USA.
If the number of paying Premium Plus subscribers is accurate, it is somewhat understandable. From the consumer perspective, Premium Plus does not offer anything more than what the $4.99 Premium plan does. The only major difference is the removal of ads and that alone might not be enough to persuade consumers to pay twice the price, especially when much of the content on Peacock has typically been served with ads via traditional TV.
Whether any of these suggestions ultimately result in the cost of the Plus version lowering, or NBCU opting to wall some of the content behind Plus to further help differentiate it from the standard Premium plan, remains to be seen. However, these are all possible outcomes and especially if Peacock is not doing as well as expected.