NBCUniversal Will Stay Mum on Peacock Promotion Until 2020, Unlike Streaming Rivals

Decision bucks Disney+, HBO Max investor days held months in advance

'We're not doing the same strategy that Netflix and people chasing Netflix have adopted,' NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said of Peacock. NBCUniversal
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As its streaming rivals are making a lot of noise about their upcoming offerings, don’t expect to hear much more about NBCUniversal’s new service, Peacock, anytime this year.

That’s according to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, who said on Comcast’s earnings call Thursday morning that the broadcaster would keep most of the details of the service’s marketing efforts and promotion under wraps until a couple months prior to the service’s April premiere.

“I think we’re going to remain pretty quiet until a month or two before launch, in terms of the details, for competitive reasons,” Burke told investors.

The Comcast-owned media company’s decision to keep details on the upcoming streaming service mum bucks a trend that was set by Disney and WarnerMedia, both of whom have opted to hold investor days centered on detailing information about their services. Disney’s investor day for Disney+, which premieres Nov. 12, was held in April; WarnerMedia’s investor day for HBO Max, which is set to debut in spring 2020, is scheduled for Oct. 29.

With that said, Burke did shed a little light onto how the company plans to use its other platforms to leverage Peacock following its April debut.

“We’re going to use the Olympics as sort of an after-burner after our launch, and then we’re going to be adding content pretty significantly throughout 2020,” Burke said, referring to NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo beginning next July.

NBCUniversal will continue selling its original content to other companies, instead of keeping it all for Peacock, Burke added.

Burke said Peacock will stand out compared to those rivals services, which will not have advertising when they come onto the market. NBCUniversal, in contrast, is emphasizing its ad-supported capabilities as a major differentiator for the service.

“I think the most important thing to think about as you’re thinking about Peacock and its role inside NBCU and broader Comcast is we’re not doing the same strategy that Netflix and people chasing Netflix have adopted,” Burke said. “We’re primarily working with the existing ecosystem and doing a lot of AVOD activity, and what that’s going to do, we think, is cut the investment pretty substantially. I think we’re going to get to cruising altitude much more quickly than a subscription service.”

In the months leading up to Peacock, NBCUniversal has rolled out a more subtle campaign underscoring the presence of the brand’s iconic peacock. The broadcaster rolled out two ad spots this fall centered on the peacock. One ad from September featured NBCUniversal comedic talent, including Parks and Recreation stars and Making It hosts Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler, singing the praises of their peacock boss. Another ad, a promotion for Saturday Night Live, featured Stranger Things actor and SNL host David Hopper squaring off with the peacock in his dressing room.

As NBCUniversal gears up for Peacock’s April premiere, Burke is predicting the streaming wars will result in some casualties along the way.

“A lot of people are being very, very aggressive about it, and I would anticipate that to happen until at some point there will be an inevitable slowing down and shakeout,” Burke said.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.