The battle between streaming services for your binge-watching hours continues.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Peacock parent NBCUniversal has been mulling pulling its movies from services like Netflix and HBO Max to boost its own content offering. The outlet additionally reported that contracts that HBO Max and Netflix have respectively with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment will expire at the end of 2021.
Bloomberg reported that no final decision has been made as to whether it will pull its films from rival services where they appear less than a year after releasing in theaters. A spokesperson declined to comment on negotiations but did confirm that pay 1 rights agreements are coming up at the end of the year and that negotiations with interested parties are currently underway.
It doesn’t come as any surprise that Peacock would be weighing such a decision, though. While those licensing deals are likely lucrative for NBCUniversal, Peacock entered the streaming wars alongside a number of other platform launches. Everyone is competing for viewers, and nobody is quite pulling off the numbers of Netflix or Disney+, which have 200 million and 100 million subscriptions, respectively. Peacock, which launched last year, reported having 33 million subscriptions in January.
Peacock does offer a lot of content that other services do not, and its WWE hub will likely be a draw for some subscribers. That said, Netflix and HBO Max are dumping a ton of money into producing high-quality originals, which will help them continue to scale and draw in new subscribers.
Even if NBCUniversal proceeds with yanking its films from rival services to instead offer them on its own, it is questionable whether that will carry the service—particularly for films that have already been released in theaters. This is especially true as the promise of vaccines for covid-19 reaches a greater percentage of the population and consumers begin to return to public spaces to go to the movies.
Will this potentially suck for subscribers? Well, yes. But I wonder if many HBO Max and Netflix users would even know the difference if Peacock does pull this lever.