What is Brian Roberts' Secret Plan?
The hidden meaning of Peacock, oops AMPAS did It again, Holland days
The Peacock Perplex
This week the Beijing Olympics became the latest in the long long string of what would have once been called viewership “disasters” but have now been declassed in our new inclusive vocabulary as “underperformers.” TOTAL AUDIENCE MELTDOWN is no longer thought of in apocalyptic terms; instead, it’s now on the spectrum of run-of-the-mill outcomes.
The just-concluded games won the gold medal for Least-Watched Games in Olympic history, averaging just 11.4 million viewers a night. Just a notch above the Oscars at this point!
Another cultural tentpole slips away. But more important, off goes what was to have been the last best chance for NBC-Uni's Peacock service to jump off of life support and into the heat of the Great Streaming Wars.
But I guess they'll have to wait for another opportunity to come along.
It's the mystery sitting quietly at the heart of these epochal times. As the slaughter and bloodshed of the GSW have raged, the fortunes of Disney, Netflix, and Warners/HBO have risen and fallen with every quarterly subscriber update, as Paramount has flailed and stormed to try to crash the battle, Peacock has sat almost on the sidelines, seemingly content to polish its feathers and rest comfortably in a distant last place. Hoping, as Hollywood’s worst misnomer, no one notices.
That Peacock now occupies a distant last place position in the streaming wars has hardened into conventional wisdom. In a recent Vulture anonymous survey of industry muckety-mucks on the state of the GSW, these were among the comments on the poll’s 7th and last contender:
Someone lend these people some money so at least they pretend to be contenders…
Peacock is a non-factor for me, my clients, and the biz.
Nothing has really cut through.
How little can you risk to participate in a war you’re already late to?
Completely irrelevant to date beyond WWE and English Premier League.
Their numbers and buzz are so tepid that they barely register in the melee. It's not like Peacock hasn't made shows, including some very good ones. They've become the online home for the Dick Wolf collection, one of the crown jewels of legacy media. But even with that, by the firehose standards of the GSW, it's a drop in the bucket.
And the question is: why? Why does Comcast want to sit out these battles? This isn't Sony we're talking about, just looking for a participation trophy to assure it its still one of the big boys. This is one of the three untarnished giant legacy entertainment studios. What's more, it's been the one noted for the most strategic, careful moves, with the least drama and the fewest whiplash pivots of them all. Donna Langely, their studio chieftain, routinely tops lists of the most talented studio leaders at the helm today. So it's hard to believe this is the best they can do.
Which suggests there's an actual strategy at work behind the Bartleby tactics, that they aren't just...blowing the streaming wars off because they're too busy searching for gluten-free menu options at Burbank lunch spots.