NBCUniversal revealed plans to launch its ad-supported streaming service in 2020, shaking up its leadership team as it prepares to enter the OTT world.
The new service will draw on the media company’s large content library, as well as its broad reach of over 90 million U.S. households, plus Comcast and Sky’s technology platforms, says NBCU. It will feature popular television and film franchises, including homegrown original programming and content from outside partners.
The high level restructuring puts longtime cable executive Bonnie Hammer in charge of streaming plans as chairman, direct-to-consumer and digital enterprises for NBCUniversal.
Meanwhile, NBC Broadcasting and Sports chairman Mark Lazarus has been promoted to East Coast based TV operations, taking over Hammer’s cable portfolio which includes NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC.
Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Jeff Shell has added NBC Entertainment and Telemundo to his responsibilities. And Donna Langley has been promoted as the sole chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and will also take over theatrical and home entertainment.
“NBCUniversal has some of the world’s most valuable intellectual property and top talent, both in front of and behind the camera,” Steve Burke, CEO, NBCUniversal, said in a statement. “Many of the most-watched shows on today’s popular streaming platforms come from NBCUniversal. Our new service will be different than those presently in the market and it will be built on the company’s strengths, with NBCUniversal’s great content and the technology expertise, broad scale and the wide distribution of Comcast Cable and Sky,”
The ad-supported service will be free for NBCU’s pay TV subscribers in the U.S. and major international markets, and Comcast Cable and Sky will provide the service to their 52 million subscribers.
An ad-free version will also be available for a fee, and non-pay TV customers can purchase a subscription.
NBCU will also continue to license content to other studios and platforms, while retaining rights to certain titles for its new service.
“People are watching premium content more than ever, but they want more flexibility and value,” Burke said. “NBCUniversal is perfectly positioned to offer a variety of choices, due to our deep relationships with advertisers and distribution partners, as well as our data-targeting capabilities. Advertising continues to be a major part of the entertainment ecosystem and we believe that a streaming service, with limited and personalized ads, will provide a great consumer experience.”
Up in the air for the NBCU streaming service is parent company Comcast’s 30 percent stake in Hulu. Yet with Disney’s planned acquisition of 21st Century Fox and a desire to build a global streaming platform that rivals Netflix, it will then own 60 percent of Hulu and is expected to try to buy Comcast’s share in Hulu.
But Burke told Variety he doesn’t see a deal with Disney anytime in the near future.
“Fifty years from now will we be in Hulu? No, I don’t think we will,” he said. “But I don’t think we’ll sell in five minutes.”
READ MORE: Variety
Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter