REPORT: NBCU Targets Comedy SVOD Service for 2015

/ Mar 3, 2015


NBCUniversal is continuing to explore direct-to-consumer digital distribution in an effort to offset declining TV ratings and reach younger viewers who are either cutting the pay-TV cord or have never paid for it to begin with. The company wants to launch a comedy subscription video service later this year, offering a mix of TV and original programming, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Per the report, NBC’s comedy service is likely to feature full episodes of NBC shows like “The Tonight Show” and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as long-form original series and other exclusive content — spanning scripted, unscripted, and sketch comedy — made by its top stars. The price could be as low as $2.50 or $3.50 per month.

NBCU’s move to go over the top in this fashion isn’t surprising. Last year, the company hired Evan Shapiro to explore digital distribution opportunities, including OTT platforms such as the comedy service. Unsurprisingly, Shapiro is steering the development of the comedy service.

In the past year, NBCU has also brought some of its top content to digital platforms — from live-streaming the Super Bowl for free to launching a mobile video app dedicated to “Saturday Night Live.” NBC also offers a live stream of its broadcast network in select national markets, though that’s only available to those who still pay for TV.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first SVOD play out of the NBCU family. Last December, the company launched Radius for fitness and health videos.

SVOD has become one of the buzziest terms in TV as networks start to embrace digital distribution models in the face of changing consumption habits. NBCU’s approach differs from that of CBS and HBO and other networks building SVOD services, though. The company is focusing on building by genre, rather than an all-in-one streaming experience.

More could be on the way to join Radius and the comedy service. According to the Journal, NBCU has explored launching other video services dedicated to genres like faith, family, and horror.

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