NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, Peacock, will launch nationally on July 15 with classic series like Law & Order and Two and a Half Men and original shows from Kevin Hart and Tina Fey.
The new streamer prioritizes customers of NBCUniversal’s parent company, Comcast. Xfinity X1 and Flex subscribers will be able to access Peacock early starting on April 15. Plus, Comcast and Cox customers will get Peacock Premium for free and the ad-free version for $4.99 per month (for all others, those services will be $4.99 and $9.99 per month, respectively).
The free tier will have 7,500 hours of content, while the premium version will have more than 15,000. That’s a lot of space to fill, and NBCUniversal has been cutting deals with heavy hitters like Chuck Lorre and Dick Wolf to make it happen.
The nine-figure deal with Wolf will bring more than a thousand past episodes of his popular dramas to the streaming service, including the long-running police procedural Law & Order; two Law & Order spin-off series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent; as well as past episodes of his trio of Chicago-based NBC shows, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med.
“I’m extremely pleased, gratified and excited by Peacock’s decision to lease my key NBC assets,” Wolf said in a statement accompanying news of the deal, which was announced at Comcast’s investor day Thursday in New York City.
NBC has been eager to strike a deal with the network’s longtime collaborator, whose prime-time shows reliably draw millions of viewers. The streaming services are spending billions of dollars to lock up top talent and popular shows to attract users—a gain a competitive edge over rivals.
Peacock already has stocked its library with such popular shows as The Office, Parks & Recreation, Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond and Saturday Night Live. Earlier this week, NBCU Content Studios poached Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane from longtime studio 20th Century Fox in a deal reported to be worth $200 million. MacFarlane is expected to create shows for the new streaming service as well as for other outlets, according to Deadline, which first reported the agreement.
While Peacock will be flush with longstanding favorites like 30 Rock and Frasier, it is lighter on originals than its competitors like Hulu and Disney+.
The streamer will have some new original programming, including an interview series from Kevin Hart and a Tina Fey-produced sitcom about a 1990s girl group. However, there is nothing on the scale of the high-budget programming for Disney+ like The Mandalorian.
Peacock does have another trick to pull, though—the 2020 Olympics. “The Olympics will be Peacock’s Mandalorian,” says Rosenblatt Securities analyst Bernie McTernan.
The service also will gain the exclusive streaming rights to Universal’s film slate, including Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World 3.
Netflix started the great talent bidding wars in 2017 when it made a headline-grabbing exclusive deal with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, which is said to exceed $100 million—then followed up with a $300 million package for Pose and American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy.
Other entertainment companies quickly followed suit: Warner Bros. TV inked a $400 million a mega deal with Greg Berlanti, creator of such popular CW shows as The Flash, Arrow and Green Lantern, and WarnerMedia struck an exclusive deal with J.J. Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot, for a reported $250 million.
The 73-year-old Wolf, an Emmy Award-winning producer who’s become a household name, stood to benefit from the bidding frenzy. Wolf deliberately structures each episode of his shows to be self-contained—without continuing plot threads. That enhanced his shows’ value in television syndication, because individual episodes can be viewed in random order. That similarly would serve as a boon for an on-demand streaming service, where viewers often gravitate to the familiar (Friends, The Office, Seinfeld) after burning through exclusive new series.
Wolf already enjoyed one of the most lucrative deals in television history, if financial details disclosed in court documents filed by his ex-wife, Christine Wolf, are accurate. She cited published reports from 2003 that Wolf stood to collect hundreds of millions in profits on the Law & Order franchise valued at $1.6 billion.
Forbes calculates Wolf’s net worth at more than $550 million based on compensation rates described in the 2005 legal filings related to a divorce settlement, data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence and independent reporting. That’s before Wolf’s Peacock deal.
A spokesperson for Wolf declined comment.
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