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Comcast's Peacock to launch with limited original shows amid coronavirus

By Sheila Dang
·2 mins read

By Sheila Dang

April 14 (Reuters) - NBCUniversal's long awaited streaming service Peacock will launch free to some Comcast Corp customers on Wednesday with a limited slate of new content, as productions for its original programming have been halted amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Peacock will promote its library of existing TV shows and movies like "30 Rock" and "Jurassic Park" as Americans seek out "comforting and familiar" content as they grapple with life during the pandemic, Comcast executives said during a press conference call on Tuesday.

People who currently subscribe to Comcast's Xfinity X1 or Flex TV services will receive Peacock Premium for free beginning on Wednesday. They will get more than 15,000 hours of content, including early access to "The Tonight Show: At Home Edition" hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

Peacock Premium will launch nationwide on July 15 for everyone for $5 a month but continue to be free for Comcast X1 and Flex customers.

A free version of Peacock with 7,500 hours of content, and an ad-free tier that costs $10 per month will also launch on July 15.

Peacock is one of the last entrants into the so-called streaming wars, which is dominated by Netflix and Walt Disney's streaming service Disney+.

The service is launching with a group of 10 sponsors including Target, Verizon and Capital One, which will work with Peacock to create new advertising formats such as "shoppable" ads.

The advertising industry has seen unprecedented losses as brands have cut their marketing budgets as they struggle with business uncertainty during the pandemic.

Peacock is getting high interest from advertisers because the free version of the service will have wide appeal with viewers, and commercial time will be limited to five minutes per hour, said Matt Strauss, chairman of Peacock, during the press call on Tuesday.

"Delivering a service that is free is arguably more relevant now than at any other point in time," he said.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)