The streaming world has just been handed another major shake-up. Universal has announced a new deal with Peacock, the streaming service launched by NBCUniversal last year. Under the deal, newly-released movies, beginning in 2022, will stream exclusively on the service no later than four months after they are initially made available in theaters. That means those who wish to stream movies like Jurassic World: Dominion or Minions: The Rise of Gru at the earliest time will need to be subscribed to Peacock.
Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG) has a deal with HBO that expires at the end of this year. That paved the way for the Peacock streaming deal. Movie rights tend to go through a long, complicated series of different pay windows. In this case, Universal movies will now go to Peacock under the pay-one partner TV window. This is typically 120 days after a movie's initial theatrical release. Each movie will then stream on Peacock for an exclusive four-month period. It will be followed by the last four months in a traditional 18-month pay-one period. Those middle ten months will see the movie licensed elsewhere, be it through cable networks or other streaming partners. Matt Strauss, chairman of Direct-to-Consumer and International at NBCUniversal, had this to say in a statement.
"Since launching Peacock just one year ago, we have seen incredible viewership of movies and continue to expand our catalog with a range of films for every fan and occasion. Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has been a fantastic partner and we are excited to not only bring their amazing slate of blockbuster films and beloved franchises to Peacock in the first-pay window, but also provide a steady stream of fresh, original films exclusively for Peacock customers throughout the year."
It used to be, before 2020 upended the movie business, that studios would have an exclusive theatrical run of nearly three months. Then there would be a physical media release and digital rentals allowed, followed by a streaming release. But exclusive theatrical windows shrunk dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Now, Hollywood has truly shifted to a streaming-focused future. This latest deal is further evidence of that. Peter Levinsohn, vice chairman and chief distribution officer at UFEG, had this to say.
"This new dynamic Pay-One agreement demonstrates UFEG's continued commitment to building a film ecosystem that allows filmmakers and artists to reach the broadest possible audience, celebrates and strengthens the theatrical experience, and, above all, empowers fans to experience the films they love on their own terms. We're excited to become Peacock's first Pay-One partner while the platform continues to curate and build a vast film library that will delight its rapidly growing subscriber base."
This is just the latest in a never-ending series of big-money deals focused on streaming. Discovery is getting ready to merge with WarnerMedia. Disney purchased most of Fox's media assets several years back. Amazon is buying MGM for more than $8 billion. Streaming services need premium content to keep subscribers. And that gets expensive, especially as big movies and TV shows become harder to come by as they are locked down in exclusive deals. Ultimately, HBO is losing out here as they have had the pay-one rights to Universal's movies since 2005. That means fewer big movies for HBO Max in the long run.
Aside from Jurassic World 3 and Minions 2, Universal's slate next year is stacked. Jordan Peele's follow-up to Us, a new Puss In Boots movie and Halloween Ends, among others. Now, Peacock subscribers stand to benefit. This news was previously reported by Deadline.