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NBCUniversal is the last of the big legacy companies to enter the so-called streaming wars, and it is arriving on the scene with a big difference: Its service, Peacock, will come with advertising.
The ad-supported, direct-to-consumer platform is set to launch April 15 (to Comcast customers) and nationally on July 15 with a lineup of more than that includes exclusive library titles (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and scripted and unscripted originals (a new take on Battlestar Galactica).
Peacock will have a free, ad-supported option that will include 13,000 hours of content, while the premium tiers will feature 20,000 hours at launch, including original series and next-day access to current NBC series. (Users of the free tier have to wait a week for current NBC shows.)
Peacock’s national launch arrives on the heels of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max (home to Friends, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory) and after Disney+ and Apple TV+. NBCUniversal was the last of the massive media conglomerates to announce plans for a streaming service designed to rival Netflix when it made its formal reveal in January 2019 as its push into the space had been complicated by its founding position in Hulu.
Official details were revealed Jan. 16 during a two-hour presentation to investors. Each level of pricing will feature additional exclusive content. The free service has, classic series and movies, sports and select premium programming. Peacock Premium — free to Comcast and Cox cable subscribers — also has full seasons of originals and more. It will cost $5 a month for non-subscribers. An ad-free option will cost $5 for Comcast subscribers and $10 for non-subs.
As Peacock prepares for its streaming future, here’s a guide to the people in charge and a roundup of all the scripted and unscripted originals and library content already earmarked for the service. Included are several new scripted series that were added to Peacock’s slate during the Jan. 16 investor presentation.
Many of the below were unveiled Sept. 17 during the first wave of announcements about the service. New orders revealed Jan. 16 during investor day will be noted below. (Listed in alphabetical order.)
Angelyne | The limited series is based on the Hollywood Reporter feature that explored the identity of L.A.’s mysterious billboard bombshell. Shameless grad Emmy Rossum will star as Angelyne. She executive produces the UCP drama alongside Mr. Robot creator (and her husband) Sam Esmail.
A.P. Bio | The comedy series, which aired for two seasons on NBC, will continue on Peacock with teach Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) continuing to teach/corrupt his honor-roll students. Patton Oswalt, Mary Sohn, Lyric Lewis, Jean Villepique and Paula Pell also star. Premieres Sept. 3.
Battlestar Galactica | The new take will tell a new story within the larger BSG mythology while staying true to the spirit of the Ron Moore-produced series. Picked up straight to series, the new BSG hails from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, who will exec produce the Universal Cable Productions show. A writer has not been announced.
Brave New World | Originally developed for USA Network, the drama is based on Aldous Huxley’s groundbreaking 1932 novel. The series imagines a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability through the prohibition of monogamy, privacy, money, family and history itself. Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay and Demi Moore star in the series from writer-showrunner David Wiener (Homecoming) and exec producer Grant Morrison. Premieres July 15.
Announced Jan. 16, the timely conspiracy thriller explores pressing questions about surveillance and misinformation. Set in London, the modern-day spy show begins with the arrest of a former soldier, which spirals into a complex conspiracy involving manipulated video evidence. Produced by Heyday Television, it premieres July 15
Director/writer: Ben Chanan
Executive producers: David Heyman, Rosie Alison, Ben Irving, Tom Coan, Tom Winchester
Producer: Derek Ritchie
Starring: Callum Turner, Holliday Grainger, Ron Perlman, Famke Janssen, Ben Miles, Ralph Ineson, Paul Ritter, Lia Williams, Laura Haddock
Also announced Jan. 16, the series revolves around Detective Inspectors Major and Carver, who are the top crime-fighting duo at the Met Police’s Special Investigation Unit, until Major gets gunned down on the job. But in an experimental artificial intelligence project, he’s brought back from the dead.
Director: Al Campbell
Writer/co-creator: Daniel Peak
Executive producers: Tom Miller (co-creator), Sam Mayer (co-creator), Phil Temple, Diederick Santer, Morwenna Gordon
Producer: Charlotte Surtees
Starring: Daniel Mays, Stephen Graham, Anna Maxwell Martin
Studio: Sky Studios
Departure | Archie Panjabi and Christopher Plummer star as investigators looking into the disappearance of a passenger plane. When battling forces threaten to undermine their work, she must find the truth and stop it from happening again. Kris Holden-Reid, Rebecca Lidiard, Tamara Duarte, Mark Rendall, Peter Mensah and Sasha Roiz also star in the series from Starlings Television, Corus Entertainment, Shaftesbury and Greenpoint Productions Ltd. Premieres Sept. 17.
Dr. Death | Based on Wondery’s hit podcast of the same name, the drama tells the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Jamie Dornan), a rising star in the Dallas medical community who was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), set out to stop him. Dr. Death explores the twisted mind of a sociopath and the gross negligence of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us. Patrick Macmanus (Happy) is writing the script for the UCP series.
Announced Jan. 16, this is a story of five unlikely allies in life who throw caution to the wind and hit upon a unique solution to a common problem. Ignoring the nay-saying of families and friends, they’re teaming up, signing contracts and buying a house together. Yes, it’s a grand social experiment. It might be genius, or it might be a total disaster… but they’re not putting their lives on hold for love any longer. There’s just one glaring problem: They’ll have to live with each other. Premieres Aug. 13.
Directors: Peter Templeman, Corrie Chen, Fiona Banks
Writers: Michael Lucas, Christine Bartlett
Executive producers: Pino Amenta, Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield
Starring: Kat Stewart, Stephem Peacocke, Doris Younane, Katie Robertson, Roy Joseph
Announced Jan. 16, the series explores what happens when a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s gets sampled by a young rapper and its members reunite to give their pop star dreams one more shot. They may be grown women balancing spouses, kids, jobs, debt, aging parents and shoulder pain, but can’t they also be Girls5Eva?
Writer/executive producer: Meredith Scardino
Executive producers: Tina Fey (Little Stranger), Robert Carlock (Bevel Gears), Jeff Richmond, David Miner (3 Arts Entertainment), Eric Gurian (Little Stanger)
Studio: Universal Television
Also revealed Jan. 16, the series explores the hits and (more often than not) misses of two hapless, dead broke best friends trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on. They also just happen to kill people for a living. Having stumbled into a career in contract killing, misfits Fran and Jamie are not your typical killers for hire. Working out of their scruffy van, each episode follows the hapless duo as they try to carry out their latest hit, inevitably derailed by incompetence, bickering and inane antics. Premieres Aug. 6.
Director: Ollie Parsons
Executive producers: Myfanwy Moore, Siobhan Bachman, Morwenna Gordon
Producer: Arnold Widdowson
Starring: Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc, Jason Watkins, Sian Clifford, Asim Chaundry
Studio: Sky Studios
Another of the shows revealed during investor day, this is a workplace sitcom set in the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters, which is a kind of weedier, geekier, more bureaucratic version of MI5 and MI6. When an arrogant, maverick NSA agent Jerry comes over from the U.S. to join the team, he enlists an inept and tactless computer analyst Joseph in a power grab that threatens to disrupt the team’s ability to combat cyber terrorism. Premieres July 15.
Director: Matt Lipsey
Writer/executive producer: Nick Mohammed
Executive producers: David Schwimmer, Nerys Evans, Morwenna Gordon
Co-executive producer: Tom Hodges
Producer: Charlie Leech
Starring: David Schwimmer, Nick Mohammed
Studio: Sky Studios
Lady Parts, announced Jan. 16, is an anarchic, laugh-out-loud music comedy following a Muslim female punk band called Lady Parts. It tracks the highs and lows of the band members as seen through the eyes of Amina Hussein — a geeky doctorate student who is recruited to be their unlikely lead guitarist. Produced by Working Title TV.
Director/writer: Nida Manzoor
Executive producers: Mark Freeland (Working Title TV), Surian Fletcher-Jones (Working Title TV)
Studio: NBCUniversal International Studios
Psych 2: Lassie Come Home | The TV movie is the second sequel to USA Network’s long-running drama. James Roday, Dulé Hill, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen and Tim Omundson return for the movie. Psych showrunner Steve Franks co-wrote the UCP-produced pic alongside Roday and Andy Berman. Debuts on launch day, July 15.
Punky Brewster | The comedy, which was ordered to series Jan. 16, is described as a multicamera/hybrid continuation of the iconic ’80s sitcom. Punky (Soleil Moon Frye, who reprises her role) is now a single mother of three (Lauren Donzis, Oliver De Los Santos, Noah Cottrell) trying to get her life back on track when she meets a young girl (Quinn Copeland) who reminds her a lot of her younger self. Cherie Johnson also reprises her role from the original series, with Freddie Prinze Jr. set to recur as Punky’s ex-husband. Steve and Jim Amogida penned the script and exec produce the UCP and UTV comedy alongside Frye.
Rutherford Falls | The scripted comedy stars The Office grad Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford, the eponymous denizen of a small New England town who is having difficulty facing the inevitable changes to his way of life. Helms co-created the Universal TV series alongside Mike Schur (Parks, The Office) and Sierra Ornelas (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).
Saved by the Bell | Picked up straight to series, the comedy follows what happens when California Gov. Zack Morris (the role memorably played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who returns for three episodes) gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools and proposes they send the affected students to the highest-performing schools in the state — including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the overprivileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality. Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley reprise their roles as Slater and Jessie in the Universal TV comedy from writer Tracey Wigfield. Josie Totah (Champions) leads the new class of students.
The Amber Ruffin Show | The unscripted series will showcase Amber’s signature smart-and-silly take on the week. A late-night show with just the good parts — the comedy. Jenny Hagel serves as writer on the Universal TV series exec produced by Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.
Who Wrote That | The docuseries offers a behind the scenes look at Saturday Night Live’s most important writers. Andy Breckman and Susan Morrison serve as writers on the UTV series from exec producer Lorne Michaels.
One Of Us Is Lying | Originally developed for E!, the drama pilot is based on Karen M. McManus’ New York Times best-selling novel of the same name. One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. Erica Saleh (Instinct) is penning the script for UCP. The YA ensemble Marianly Tejada (The Purge), Cooper van Grootel (Go!), Annalisa Cochrane (Into the Dark: Pure), Chibuikem Uche (Ghost Draft), Jessica McLeod (You Me Her), Barrett Carnahan (Grown-ish) and Melissa Collazo (Swamp Thing) star. Jennifer Morrison will direct the pilot.
Straight Talk | The comedy pilot examines what happens when two opposing ideologies are forced into an odd coupling. The main characters will be challenged by one another, making the moral lines at which they once stood harder to define. Jada Pinkett Smith stars in the Universal TV comedy created and written by Kara Brown (In the Dark, Grownish), with Rashida Jones exec producing (and directing).
The streamer has already illustrated a willingness to follow the traditional development model — script to pilot to series pickup — and has several projects as part of its next programming pipeline.
The Adventure Zone
Based on the McElroy Family’s wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons podcast and No. 1 New York Times best-selling graphic novel series, The Adventure Zone is a side-splitting and heart-filled fantasy animated comedy series that follows an unlikely, poorly equipped trio and their beleaguered Dungeon Master as they reluctantly embark on a quest to save their world.
Writer/executive producer: Adam Higgs (Orphan Black)
Executive producers: Clint McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy
Old-school car wash owner, Henry (George Wallace), is thrilled that his estranged child is returning to Alabama after 17 years. However, Henry has a lot of soul searching to do when the child he thought was a son returns as the determined, proud, trans woman, Desiree (Laverne Cox).
Writer/executive producers: Dan Ewen, Laverne Cox, George Wallace
Executive producers: Norman Lear, Brent Miller
Producer: Paul Hilepo
Studio: Sony Pictures Television
Ellie, a fiercely independent but perpetually single music manager, has always wanted a family but never found a man worthy of the role of “father.” That is, until her 39th birthday, when she decides to ask her gay best friend and co-worker, Jonathan, if he’ll be her sperm donor. When Jonathan surprises himself by saying “yes,” it sets off a chain of events that turn Ellie and Jonathan’s personal and professional lives upside down as they try to turn their “chosen family” into a biological family.
Writer/executive producer: Chris Schleicher (The Mindy Project)
Executive producers: Mindy Kaling, Howard Klein
Studio: Warner Bros. Television
Division One is a coming-of-age comedy about an underdog women’s collegiate soccer team that gets a new female coach — a former professional soccer player who’s fallen from grace — and must decide whether or not they’re going to take the risk of trying to be great.
Writer/director/executive producer: Maggie Carey (The To Do List)
Writer/executive producer: Julia Brownell (This Is Us)
Executive producers: Amy Poehler (Paper Kite), Abby Wambach & Glennon Doyle, Kim Lessing (Paper Kite), Dave Becky & Tom Lassally (3 Arts Entertainment)
Studio: Universal Television
Through exclusive access and exhaustive investigative reporting, New York Times best-selling author Nick Bilton draws on hundreds of sources, documents and internal e-mails to tell intimate true stories of companies behaving badly and technology gone awry. The first installment of this anthology series will be based on Bilton’s acclaimed book Hatching Twitter, a tale of betrayed friendships and high-stakes power struggles that accompanied the meteoric rise of the infamous tech company. 140 characters and a few lines of code changed the world, disrupting the very fabric of the way people communicate. This series will explore the real masterminds behind it all, how it was done, and the colossal ramifications the technology will have on our future.
Writer/executive producer: Nick Bilton
Executive producer: Patrick Macmanus (Peacock’s Dr. Death, Happy)
Studio: Universal Content Productions
After rotting in prison for over a decade, America’s ultimate hero and uber patriot MacGruber is finally released. His mission: to take down a mysterious villain from his past — Brigadier Commander Enos Queeth. With the entire world in the crosshairs, MacGruber (Will Forte), Vicki and Piper must race against time to defeat the forces of evil. Only to find that evil may be lurking within.
Writer/executive producer/star: Will Forte
Writer/director/executive producer: Jorma Taccone
Writer/executive producer: John Solomon
Executive producers: Lorne Michaels, John Goldwyn, Andrew Singer & Erin David (Broadway Video)
Studio: Universal Television
Peacock will be the exclusive streaming home for The Office starting in January 2021 and Parks and Recreation at launch. And, as the service announced Jan. 16, so will six of Dick Wolf’s most popular procedurals — flagship Law & Order and spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent, plus Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med. ViacomCBS-owned Yellowstone and Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and The George Lopez Show will also join the service as the company makes deals with studios from outside its ecosystem. The streamer boasted it will have 10,000 hours of library originals.
Previously announced library titles also available at launch on a non-exclusive basis (until other streaming deals expire) include Universal TV and UCP fare 30 Rock, A-Team, Bates Motel, Battlestar Galactica, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cheers, Covert Affairs, Crossing Jordan, Downton Abbey, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, House, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, King of Queens, Knight Rider, Married … With Children, Leave It to Beaver, the original Magnum P.I., Don Johnson’s Miami Vice, Monk, Murder She Wrote, New Amsterdam, Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, Psych, Roseanne, Royal Pains, Saturday Night Live, the original Saved by the Bell, Suits, Superstore, The Mindy Project, The Office, The Purge and Will & Grace.
Unscripted fare, too, will be available in 2020/2021, including American Greed, American Ninja Warrior, Bad Girls Club, Below Deck, Botched, Chrisley Knows Best, Dateline, Don’t Be Tardy, Face Off, Flipping Out, Hollywood Game Night, Hollywood Medium, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Killer Couples, Lock-Up, Married to Medicine, Million Dollar Listing, Paranormal Witness, Snapped, Souther Charm franchise, Summer House, The Profit, the Real Housewives franchise and Top Chef.
What’s more, scripted seasons of hits like This Is Us, Superstore, SVU and others can stream current season episodes the day after they air. Daytime programming, too, will be available on the service next-day, including Days of Our Lives and the syndicated Kelly Clarkson Show.
Feature film library titles from within the company fold — including from Universal, DreamWorks Animation and Focus Features — will also be available at launch, though on a non-exclusive basis, with 1,200 hours available. Added during investor day were Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World. Peacock will also have exclusive streaming rights to the 2020 Universal film slate.
Peacock will also look to Universal’s feature division to create TV series from its established film franchises. Previously announced library titles available at launch include American Pie, Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, A Beautiful Mind, Back to the Future, Brokeback Mountain, Casino, Dallas Buyers Club, Do the Right Thing, Erin Brockovich, E.T., Field of Dreams, Jaws, Mama Mia, Shrek and The Breakfast Club. The Bourne, Despicable Me and Fast & Furious franchises will also be available.
More than 3,000 hours of content from NBCU’s Telemundo will also be available on Peacock, including the original dramedy Armas de Mujer and a handful of library titles.
The service has also signed wide-ranging licensing deals with A+E Networks and ViacomCBS. The former includes shows like Cold Case Files, American Pickers, Storage Wars, The Curse of Oak Island and The First 48. The ViacomCBS pact includes non-exclusive licenses for series including Yellowstone, Ray Donovan, The Affair and Everybody Hates Chris and films like the Godfather trilogy, Fatal Attraction, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Catch Me If You Can.
Also included in Peacock’s formal unveiling was news that it has signed a multiyear partnership with Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud network, the digital channel from the actor-comedian. As part of the deal, Peacock will have an equity investment in the company a first-look deal and distribution of the company’s catalog on the service. Hart will also deliver a stand-up special for the platform and interview series, Hart to Heart, as well as shortform content.
Premium subscribers will get early access to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night With Seth Meyers starting at 8 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET, respectively. (That’s before they air on NBC.)
Peacock will feature live coverage of Premier League soccer, the Ryder Cup, horse racing’s Triple Crown, an NFL wild-card playoff game and select events at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2021. The platform also revealed plans for several unscripted sports-themed originals. Among them: United States of Speed, exploring the race to find the new fastest man of all time; In Deep With Ryan Lochte, about the Olympic swimmer’s quest to make the team for Tokyo; a Nike docuseries; swimming series The Greatest Race; and Lost Speedways, an auto-racing series created and hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. In Deep and Lost Speedways will be part of the national launch on July 15.
Peacock will have access to the first pay window for the DreamWorks Animation films Trolls World Tour, The Boss Baby 2 and The Croods 2, as well as Shrek, Shark Tale and Despicable Me. Library titles include Curious George, which joins the original DWA series TrollsTopia, Madagascar: A Little Wild, The Mighty Ones, Cleopatra in Space and Where’s Waldo. Jimmy Fallon-produced The Kids Tonight Show — made for kids, by kids — will also be available on the platform. Curious George and Cleopatra in Space will both premiere July 15.
Peacock will feature live channels for NBC News Now, Sky News and new launch NBC/Sky Global News.
TOP DECISION MAKERS
Bonnie Hammer was originally tapped to serve as Peacock chairman and spent the better part of 2019 making programming deals for library titles and originals while plotting the service’s larger vision. In October, she departed Peacock for a larger role overseeing NBCU’s studios and international units. Comcast’s Matt Strauss now serves as Peacock chairman. Strauss, a 15-year Comcast veteran, is a tech guy who developed and launched the X1 platform, which delivers Comcast’s live TV experience alongside On Demand and DVR libraries as well as access to third-party apps.
Bill McGoldrick serves as head of programming for Peacock. The well-regarded exec added the streamer to his purview and continues to serve as president of scripted content at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and president of unscripted at USA Network and Syfy. McGoldrick, who was personally recruited for the post by Hammer, also oversees film for the streamer. He reports to Strauss and Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCU’s broadcast, cable, sports and news.
Alex Sepiol works as head of drama at the streamer. McGoldrick, to whom Sepiol reports, personally recruited him back in 2016 to serve as executive vp scripted originals. Sepiol, like McGoldrick, continues to work both Peacock and his role as executive vp originals for the cable brands.
Peacock has yet to round out the rest of its creative team. This guide will be updated when a head of comedy, among other staffers, are formally announced.
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