Cheap, Free Streaming Content Is Available - To A Point

Recent TV advertising touting NBCUniversal’s Peacock as a “free” streaming thing sure got a lot of positive attention. But now add in the factor of a big popular TV show and maybe some of this changes one’s view.

“The Office,” which will end its long rerun airings on Netflix, will move to NBCUniversal Peacock streamer for a price. Netflix will let go of “The Office” in January. It begins on Peacock Jan. 4, 2021.

“The Office" -- which ran on the NBC Television Network from 2005 to 2013, over 200 episodes -- will see the first two seasons of the show on Peacock’s free tier. Seasons three to nine will be available for $4.99 through Peacock's limited ad option, or $9.99 for the Peacock no-ads tier.

Well, you get what you pay for. Popularity and cost and value is still a thing in entertainment.



Here’s the value component: In 2018, 3% of all Netflix minutes watched in the U.S. went to “The Office”-- some 52 billion minutes. That’s huge (in Netflix’s streaming world). To get “The Office” on Netflix, you knew what you were getting into, mostly a $12.99 a month commitment. But now with Peacock, what does one do?

Perhaps you are a big fan and want only to watch (again) the later episodes. So you choose one of the paying options. Customers that want to watch just the first two seasons? Maybe if you’ve never seen it before, you might sample it. Go with the free Peacock thing.

All this says much about what Peacock believes is key -- that one TV series -- “The Office” -- can be a huge lure for connected TV platforms. This make sense when thinking about what one big Nielsen-measured rating hit show can mean to a modest size cable TV entertainment network.

Even then, price is everything. We should expect NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, or Walt Disney would do the same on their respective streaming platforms.

For one, Walt Disney will continue to schedule highly regarded theatrical movies on its streaming service Disney+ -- with an extra premium fee.

It did this for “Mulan” this past September, charging an extra $30 price (on top of its $6.99/month plan for Disney+). Coming in March, Disney will do the same for “Raya and the Last Dragon.” It hasn’t as yet announced a price, but it is assumed it will be similar to “Mulan.”

WarnerMedia has gone a different route -- at least for 2021 and its 17 theatrical-intended movies. Those films will launch for free (for a limited month run) on HBO Max on the same day and date as running in theaters. It should be noted HBO Max is perhaps the priciest of all premium streamers currently available including Netflix -- at $14.99 a month.

But this doesn’t mean WarnerMedia -- in the years to come -- won't find a better monetization plan. (Big-time movie directors, as well as their high power talent agencies, are already grumbling about WarnerMedia’s moves.).

That’s just media office business at work.

1 comment about "Cheap, Free Streaming Content Is Available - To A Point".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, December 16, 2020 at 6:26 p.m.

    Wayne, you have a hidden gem in your posting ... "In 2018, 3% of all Netflix minutes watched in the U.S. went to “The Office”-- some 52 billion minutes."

    First, I think it should say "minutes streamed" rather than "minutes watched".   Each minute streamed will be watched by at least one person, but maybe more (less likely on mobile devices, more likely on fixed devices).

    Here's some mathematical derivations (assuming the data is US only)...

    • 52 billion minutes a year is 142,465,753 minutes per day (or 2,374,429 hours per day)

    • The Office is only 3% of Netflix's minutes watched, so NetFlix streams around 4,748,858,447 minutes on the average day - a BIG number

    • Q4 2018 Netflix had 61 million US subscribers (167m globally)

    • So the minutes per day per subscriber is 78 minutes

    • Assuming that most subscribers are households and that the average people per household in Netflix households mirrors the US population (2.62 PPH), if every person in the HH watched simultaneously it could a maximum 204 minutes per day

    • That is, while there was around 4.75m minutes streamed, there may have been as many 12.445 minutes viewed.

    • This also provides a US Netflix 'Universe' estimate of around 160m people

    • In essence - somewhere between 78 and 204 minutes are VIEWED per day in Netflix homes based on that 'gem'

    But only some homes have Netflix so what does that look like in the broader US viewing audience?

    Per Nielsen in 2018 there were 119.9m TV homes with 305.4m people.

    The lowball figure would be if all those Netflix streamed minutes were viewed by just one person then the minutes per person per day in the US population would be would be 15.5 minutes (i.e. the equivalent TV ratings average minute audience).

    I know this post may muddy the waters, but it goes to show how important it is that video viewing data is standardised across all delivery mediums.

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