US movie studio giant NBCUniversal has delayed plans to launch its Peacock streaming service in the Australian market, setting the stage for a fierce battle among the country’s commercial networks over the latest major Hollywood content deal.
The Comcast-controlled media company flew Justin Che, Managing Director of NBCU – Asia-Pacific, from Singapore several weeks ago to officially start the process of selling its programs, movies and channels in Australia. Multiple industry sources, who spoke anonymously because the talks are confidential, said the company has met with local media executives who are expected to bid against each other for content over the next few months. given that most of the existing agreements expire in December.
The NBCU negotiations will be extremely competitive and expensive as they could be the last major content talks to take place in the Australian market. Other international players such as Disney and Paramount have already picked up content from local networks and launched direct-to-consumer streaming services.
The decision to strike a content deal delays NBCU’s previous plan to launch its Peacock streaming service in the market, or partner with a local player such as Seven West Media, which has held joint venture talks with the society. NBCU has had business deals with Stan and Foxtel for several years, but those deals have become critical as market shards and international production companies pick up content for their own services.
International exclusive deals – like the deal Netflix and Sony struck for the popular American sitcom Seinfeld – have also affected the content available on various services.
This masthead reported last year that NBCU was considering bringing Peacock to market on its own or through a joint venture partnership with a player such as Seven West Media or Paramount (it has a relationship with Paramount internationally). However, media industry watchers believe it could potentially make more money by selling its content to established players in the local market.
NBCUniversal’s slate includes content from Peacock, Sky Studios (which parent company Comcast bought in 2018) and mainstream NBCU programming. This is the largest transaction by volume in this market. Sky Studios, which was behind Chernobyl, has invested a large sum of money in original programming since 2019 and created a major production studio with the aim of becoming the Hollywood of England. NBCU’s library also includes Office (WE), Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99 and The abbey in the town center.
Existing content deals — including a 2020 deal with Stan for Peacock Originals — all expire later this year. For Foxtel and Stan, an agreement would reduce the risk of losing market share to another streaming player. Stan, who is owned by Nine Entertainment Co (owners of this masthead), can’t afford to lose his current production deal as other major international companies, like HBO and Showtime, supply their new content to Foxtel and Paramount.