NBC May One-Up Competitors With Rumored New Web Video Service

NBC May One-Up Competitors With Rumored New Web Video Service

From HBO to CBS, it definitely seems like the name of the game for 2015 is OTT (over the top). However, while these new channel specific services are nice and offer new levels of convenience for the likes of cord cutters looking to break free of the hassle that is standard cable and satellite subscriptions, something the brains behind these OTT platforms continually fail to comprehend are the two things that will make them worth something: branding and original content. However, with a new report, it seems NBC has actually learned from the mistakes of its competitors.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “NBCUniversal is aiming to launch a comedy-focused subscription Web video service later this year.” The report went on to add, “the comedy service would likely feature full episodes of NBC shows such as The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. The company also plans to invest in original series for the services and may enlist its TV stars to create exclusive content.” The interest of the news aside, the two key elements relating to its importance are the ideas of “comedy-focus” and “exclusive content.”

Rather than just trying to sell regurgitated NBCUniversal product for the sake of a new revenue stream, the company wants to include all sort of content with a focus on genre specificity over brand association. Like Netflix and Amazon, it appears the goal of NBCUniversal’s OTT service it to make people associate a content type with it rather than a name – for now. Of course, Netflix and Amazon are identified today as Netflix and Amazon, but in the beginning they were just content delivery systems for a variety of things, and that’s what made them worth something.

But, really, it’s the “exclusive content” that could be the most important element of this announcement, especially if utilized correctly. Like The CW has done with CW Seed and Nickelodeon failed to do with Nick.com, NBCUniversal could use its OTT service as a way to experiment with concepts that may be to “out there” for any of its traditional outlets. As it stands, there’s no real comedy channel under the NBCUniversal banner; nowhere to have its Key & Peele sketch show or sitcom revival. Imagine if this had existed when NBC cancelled Community. The narrative may have been wildly different.

In fact, NBCUniversal sees so much potential in the idea that the WSJ’s report even goes on to include statements that the organization is considering similar services based in faith, family and horror. Like comedy, NBCUniversal lacks a dedicated network for these genres. Sure, it has places it can put some of them, like a Syfy horror series or USA family show, but unlike competitors such as Viacom, NBCUniversal has never really latched on to the idea of branding as it pertains to programming type… until now.

These OTT services are NBCUniversal’s chance to make a statement. They’re a chance to blaze trails of success among seas of failure. CBS’ OTT launch didn’t go over as everyone hoped, CW’s Seed is still in the very early stages of its foundation building and HBO has yet to launch its announced service. NBCUniversal has a real opportunity to beat its competition to the punch, but more importantly, it has the opportunity to it in the right way. This move can be about more than just going to where the key 30 and under demographic lives. This can be about diversifying a content library for a whole new generation. Will things go that way? It’s hard to say, but there’s hope, and at this stage, that’s all we can really ask for.

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