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September 20, 2020 |

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NBCU’s Peacock fans out onto Roku after extended negotiations

A little more than two months after launching Peacock, NBCUniversal’s parent company Comcast has reached a distribution agreement with Roku.

Roku and NBCU had been locked in a tense war of words which threatened dozens of the latter’s apps on the platform, but they have evidently come to an agreement.

Central to the conflict was Roku’s demands that Peacock sit inside its channels category rather than as a standalone app – a luxury afforded to both Netflix and Disney+. Comcast’s dispute with this was not just cosmetic, as Roku takes a 30% cut of ad revenue of its channels. With Peacock being mostly viewed as an ad-supported product, this would potentially see NBCU giving up a significant amount of revenue that it does not on other platforms like Android TV and Apple TV.

There had also been concerns from NBCU over its purpose-built Peacock ad tech and connecting it to a third-party platform.

A statement from Roku suggests that these issues had been overcome, but did not clarify whether the pair had come to any sort of financial resolution: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Comcast that will bring Peacock to Roku customers and maintain access to NBCU’s TV Everywhere apps.

“We look forward to offering these new options to consumers under an expanded, mutually beneficial relationship between our companies that includes adding NBC content to The Roku Channel and a meaningful partnership around advertising.”

A spokesperson from NBCUniversal said: “More than 15 million people signed up for Peacock since its national launch in July and we are thrilled millions more will now be able to access and enjoy Peacock along with other NBCUniversal apps on their favorite Roku devices.”

The next step for NBCU will be to come to a resolution with Amazon to bring Peacock to Fire TV platforms.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia also finds itself in a similar situation with HBO Max and both Roku and Amazon.

Omdia senior research analyst Sarah Henschel recently told Digital TV Europe that it “may be unlikely that an agreement is ever reached” due to seeming hostilities from both sides. She added that the expected introduction of an ad-supported HBO Max tier may “instigate further revenue splits and negotiations” between WarnerMedia and Roku, but Amazon will be harder to deal with.

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