This was anticipated; in fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if other networks fell in line as well, following CBS and its All Access standalone streaming service; cable TV networks like HBO, Showtime and Starz all have standalone streaming services, but the big 4 broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) haven’t quite been in a hurry to follow.
CBS took the leap first with All Access ($5.99 per month); now NBC just might be launching its own SVOD service.
Bloomberg is reporting this afternoon that NBCUniversal parent Comcast Corp. plans to introduce a web-based service offering programming from its NBCUniversal TV networks, including of course NBC, as well as Bravo, SyFy, and the USA network.
Plans are to launch the service in the next 12 to 18 months, according to people familiar with the matter, which seems like forever given how rapidly the industry continues to evolve. Although the report explains that one reason for the length of time until launch may be because Comcast still faces restrictions imposed on the cable TV giant by regulators after its acquisition of NBCUniversal. “The rules make it difficult for Comcast to sell services entirely comprised of its own content. The last of the prohibitions expire in September 2018,” says Bloomberg.
Further specifics on what this service would look like in terms of costs, plans, live-streaming options, sports, etc, are not known at this time.
Other NBCUniversal TV properties include CNBC, MSNBC, Oxygen Media, Chiller, E!, and Telemundo. Although it’s doubtful that any SVOD service the company launches will include all of its networks under one subscription. At least, others have done that kind of bundling. CBS’ All Access doesn’t include programming for The CW or Showtime, which it both owns.
Also, what all these standalone services might mean for a service like Hulu – who has rights to stream programming from NBC, ABC and Fox, a day after their TV broadcasts – isn’t clear. Currently, you can’t stream CBS/The CW programming on Hulu at all. If NBC, ABC and Fox also launch their own SVOD services, there’s a chance that, like CBS, their programming will no longer be available on Hulu – at least, not a day after they air on TV.
The unbundling continues… it’s all very fascinating to watch, and as someone who has been hoping for this for years, I’m all for it! In addition to each network having its own service, we also have YouTube launching its own live streaming TV service just last week, with about 40 channels; DirecTV Now comes with 60+ channels for $35 a month.
What might the TV landscape look like in another 10 years?