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Peacock Has Begun Streaming
July 15, 2020  | By Mike Hughes

For TV viewers, this is now the clash of the titans.

On Wednesday (July 15), the Peacock streaming service debuts, harnessing the power of NBC, Universal, and beyond. It starts with eight new series and a pile of old ones, plus movies and more.

Peacock has entered a field that is getting more and more crowded – Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, CBS All Access, Hulu, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Acorn to name a small portion – and continues to grow.

However, there are differences, and here's a big one: Peacock's basic subscription is free, hoping people will upgrade to Peacock Premium, which will add shows and eliminate commercials.

But the idea is the same: Create a mass so big that viewers can't resist.

Netflix invented that approach; in 2017 alone, it said it was spending $6 billion on programs. The result has given it instant stature – Best Film nominees at the Oscars (Roma, The Irishman, Marriage Story), top honors at the Emmys (The Crown, Orange Is the New Black), and beyond. It's also given Netflix upwards of 70 million subscribers in the U.S. and 180 million worldwide.

On the other hand, the others have something Netflix lacks – a deep library, built from decades of mergers and acquisitions. Consider:

DISNEY bought ABC, Pixar, Marvel, and the Star Wars franchise then bought the Fox movie studio (but not Fox Corp, which includes Fox News and the Fox network), and some of its best cable channels. It sent FX shows to Hulu (in which it also bought controlling interest), but kept Nat Geographic for Disney+.

WARNER BROTHERS bought Marvel's biggest competitor, the DC Comics characters. It had its own HBO channel and bought Ted Turner's properties, ranging from classic movies (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz) to cartoons (Hanna-Barbera, early Looney Tunes) and the TNT and TBS networks. Put everything together, and HBO Max ranges from Game of Thrones and The Sopranos to Bugs Bunny and Batman.

UNIVERSAL owns NBC and its cable channels. Its Peacock even has Downton Abbey, which is from a British company Universal owns.

That gives Peacock plenty of old shows – some available now, and others are coming later.

Classic comedies include Cheers, The Office, 30 Rock, Will & Grace, and Parks and Recreation. Dramas include Murder She Wrote, Yellowstone, and all those Law & Order shows.

And movies? Well, Steven Spielberg used to be based at Universal. Peacock includes films he directed (E.T., Jaws) or produced (Back to the Future) and more. It also has Bridesmaids, Field of Dreams and movie series – Bourne Identity, Fast and Furious, Shrek, and Despicable Me.

Still, streaming services need more than memories.

Peacock will start with several new projects:

Brave New World, an eight-part mini-series, adapting the futuristic novel, and Intelligence, a comedy with David Schwimmer (top, with co-star Nick Mohammed) as the pompous American joining a British government agency. It plans to have six-episode seasons.

The Capture, a British conspiracy thriller starring Holliday Grainger, Lucrezia in The Borgias series. The Capture has eight hours in the first season, with a second season planned.

Psych 2: Lassie Come Home, a movie reuniting the characters from the TV show, Psych.

Three animated shows. Two (Curious George and Where's Waldo?) had already started on other networks; the newcomer is Cleopatra in Space.

And two sports documentary series. Lost Speedways has Dale Earnhardt Jr. visiting former racing sites and talking about their past; In Deep With Ryan Lochte was meant to lead into the Olympics (now delayed a year), as Lochte, 35, tries to patch up his image and make a comeback during what are, for swimmers, the twilight years.

Another heavyweight has stepped into the streaming ring with a valuable catalog; it will be interesting to see what happens next.

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