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Why NBCUniversal is making Peacock its ESPN+

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Yahoo Finance's Dan Roberts joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how NBC's new strategy with moving sports over to Peacock looks a lot like what ESPN is doing with ESPN+.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: NBC'S making big moves with its sports content. And for that, we want to bring in Dan Roberts, who, of course, is following this for us. And Dan, you're closely looking at what they're doing with Peacock, maybe positioning it to go head to head with ESPN plus?

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, Peacock has made a lot of moves just in the last week, Seana. Now last Friday we saw that NBC Universal came out and announced it will shut down its NBC Sports Network. That was greeted as pretty sad news and obviously a sign of the pandemic. It does mean a lot of layoffs.

But it also means a lot of sports content shifting over to Peacock, where NBC and parent company, Comcast, had already moved a number of Premier League soccer games. Now you're going to see more NASCAR races and NHL games on Peacock. Then you also saw news of the WWE deal. WWE Network is going to fold into Peacock.

This is reported as a $1 billion five-year deal. It will probably last longer than that. And it instantly adds a couple of million subscribers to Peacock from WWE, pretty good. And Peacock, by the way, has already amassed around 26 million paying subscribers. That's more subscribers than Comcast's Xfinity service has.

And then just today, additional news about more sports content being moved from NBC Sports Gold, which is its streaming platform, over to Peacock. That's non-race Indycar series content.

So the point is, we're seeing the strategy start to emerge, and that is NBC doing away with its standalone sports channel, the Sports Network, and I would expect eventually doing away with that gold streaming tier and just moving all of that non-primetime cable live sports content over to Peacock, which I think really positions it as an ESPN Plus, even though, of course, Peacock also has a lot of non-sports content, so arguably, it's really the Disney Plus well for Comcast.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Dan, you just said something about moving from cable over. And I was curious, is anyone putting out-- is there a saturation point, or a period at which, cable is just toast? Sports are so important, but it seems like everything really should be migrating to streaming. Why even bother? I mean, ESPN, serious trouble here for Disney.

DAN ROBERTS: Well, look, I mean, Adam, the big, big marquee events, you know, the Super Bowl, NFL games, Olympics content, you know, the big events of the Olympics, all that kind of stuff, the biggest NASCAR events, are still going to be on non-cable. They're going to be on broadcast television, ABC, NBC, Fox.

But then you're starting to see more of these niche, and even I would say niche is unfair now, because a lot of non-niche sports, I mean, NHL games, which is you know, that's one of the big four leagues, move over to streaming outlets. So never say never. I think there's still a purpose to having the main broadcast networks and having the cable package.

But you know, that platter of what people are paying extra for is getting more and more full. This is just where the puck is headed. You're going to see more and more and more sports on Peacock. And by the way, that's all without the Olympics, still, which was supposed to be the big tent pole product on Peacock.