NBCUniversal's Streaming Service To Debut In April, Taking A Different Approach Than Its Competitors

With rival streaming services like Disney+, HBO Max, and Apple TV+ coming soon, NBCUniversal announced earlier this year that it would also be debuting its own ad-supported, direct-to-consumer subscription service in an effort to snatch a piece of the pie in the streaming era. Now the company has announced a launch window of April 2020, and once The Office wraps up its deal to stream Netflix through all of 2020, the NBC hit comedy will be the new service's prized possession.

Engadget reports that during a Comcast quarterly earnings call, CEO Steve Burke explained that the NBCUniversal streaming service is going to be built on a similar platform to Sky's UK-based Now TV streaming service, and although there are supposed to be some additional "innovative" ideas attached to the new service, there's no word yet about what those will be.

The most interesting thing is that the new NBCUniversal streaming service will be focusing on licensed content with some original programming instead of funding dozens of original shows right out of the gate. That's a huge flex, because even Disney+, which has arguably the most impressive back catalogue of licensed content of the modern era, is spending tons of money on original shows in an attempt to lure audiences in who may be on the fence about subscribing. NBCUniversal's approach seems to boil down to, "We'll have The Office, and we know everyone loves that show, so we're just going to sit back and watch as they all come crawling to us."

The Office, of course, is massively popular and has been widely reported to be the most popular show streaming on Netflix. We know the NBCUniversal streaming service will be The Office's exclusive streaming home starting in 2021, but I suppose it's still technically unclear if NBCU will have The Office at launch or if Netflix has an exclusivity deal until January 2021.The Verge reports that the "vast majority" of the content on the new service "is initially likely to be acquired from outside the company." That's an odd decision to reach in 2019, because that's essentially what Netflix did at the very start of the streaming days. That tactic didn't work in the long run; Netflix eventually realized it would need original content to keep people hooked.

I'm not sure how long the "what are you gonna do – NOT watch The Office?" business strategy is going to last, but on one hand, I sort of admire it. Then again, I also find myself hoping at least one of these major subscription services crashes and burns, because it's going to be prohibitively expensive to subscribe to them all.