The struggle for stability in the streaming era has led Hollywood studios to take the defensive. After licensing movies and shows to Netflix and Amazon, companies like Disney and WarnerMedia have torn their greatest attributes out of the competition to improve their own platforms. Not to be left behind, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal is reportedly considering a similar strategy to shore up its fledgling streamer Peacock, Bloomberg reports. The media conglomerate is currently paid hundreds of millions of dollars by HBO Max and Netflix for its Universal Pictures films and the popular animated film Slate. With so much room for new streaming services, however, executives are reportedly debating whether to ditch lucrative rights deals when they expire at the end of the year.
The dilemma is part of the larger seismic shifts Hollywood is reluctantly going through amid shuttered movie houses and stiff competition from deep pocket streamers, including newer entrants like Apple. Disney – which previously got its movies from Netflix – has brought its feature films, including Pixar’s Soul and the upcoming Marvel blockbuster Black Widow, to Disney +. AT & T’s WarnerMedia took a similar approach, releasing its films in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.
Peacock has now put the popular sitcom The Office center stage, relying on a mix of sport and nostalgia to lure customers to his service. But higher-up companies at NBCU are now wondering if the films and shows rented to others could be used to bolster Peacock’s 33 million customer base. It’s not easy to unwind age-old business models, however, and a decision has yet to be made. Apparently executives are also considering a hybrid strategy that allows Peacock to share rights with another service, similar to Disney’s Hulu for Modern Family.
Universal’s enviable catalog includes franchises like Jurassic Park, Fast & the Furious, and popular Illumination Entertainment animated films like Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets. While the older material may not match the string of new shows and movies that Netflix is pumping out, the hope is that subscribers will continue to subscribe between the originals.