Comcast
CMCSA
Universal C.E.O. Brian Roberts announced today that its Peacock streaming services can boast 15 million subscribers since launching in late July, 2020.

Under any circumstances, this figure is robust and should generate tons of enthusiasm and back-slapping around the Universal Studios
UVV
executive suites.

However, what’s most startling about the announcement is that the company has accomplished this feat without making Peacock yet available to the country’s largest digital distributors, Roku and Amazon Prime.

Another recently launched streaming service, HBO Max, is also unavailable on those platforms; HBO Max, however, can only account for approximately 4 million subscribers – – nearly four hundred per cent fewer than Peacock.

One can attribute any number of reasons for Peacock’s success versus HBO Max’s stumble out of the gate:

1.Consumers can get Peacock for free or for a monthly subscription. The company isn’t announcing how many of the 15 million announced subscribers signed up for the free service versus how many signed up for Peacock Premium, a $4.99 a month service that also includes original content produced for the streamer, some exclusive sports packages and early access to same-day late night programming.

2.Peacock is a “big tent” service, like NETFLIX
NFLX
, AMAZON PRIME
AMZN
and DISNEY+, in that its brand and consumer appeal is aimed at single people, families, the older demographic and young kids. In short, it’s a broader-based digital effort, versus HBO Max, which by its name alone, suggests an elite, thinner slice of the consumer pie more aligned with HBO’s artistic, R-rated brand.

3.Consumers are becoming more savvy about their streaming and cable subscriptions, realizing in many cases that they already have a cable subscription to HBO and don’t have anything NBC or “Peacock”-related on their streaming/subscription menu.

4.Did I mention there’s a free version of Peacock? Yeah, I did. We can’t underestimate the fact that Peacock’s free offering is likely the key reason Peacock is more popular than HBO Max (the HBO Max subscription, by the way, is $11.99 a month, if you don’t already have HBO.)

As 2020’s “Year of the Streaming Wars” continues (including an announcement today that Viacom
VIAB
/CB
VIAC
S’s new streaming service will be called Paramount+, subsuming its wobbly forefather, CBS All Access), we’re sure to see more surprising developments before the year’s end.

What’s becoming more and more obvious as the weeks and months go by, is that when it comes to TV, most of us are thinking about what’s on our streaming service tonight, as opposed to what’s on broadcast. The launch of the NFL this season on NBC (ironically, the owner of Peacock, the subject of today’s story) is down 20% from last season, an alarming foreshadowing for possible future network fall-offs.

Whether it’s the decline of the NFL (historically, the highest rated “show” on network TV in recent years) or simply a seemingly insatiable consumer appetite for all things digital, what’s becoming obvious is that the big loser in these history-making streaming wars may end up being a player that’s not even on the field – – network television.

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