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NBCU Tests Demand For Niche SVOD

Much like young general entertainment channels, emerging SVOD services tend to offer a bit of everything, usually anchored a good collection of movies to draw viewers in.

More specialized forays have tended to concentrate on mainstream genres, such as kids and sports.

Now, NBCUniversal is testing consumer willingness to pay for other kinds of content online.

In January, the TV and film group launched comedy offering Seeso in the US, while reality service Hayu is due to make its debut in Australia, Ireland and the UK next month.

Up to five more targeted products are in the pipeline, heralding a new phase of expansion, experimentation and diversification for paid video.

NBCU SVOD play Hayu… launching in Australia, Ireland and the UK next month

An Online Experience

For NBCU  which has been notably less aggressive than its peers in OTT licensing deals  these owned-and-operated services are a two-way play on new broadband opportunities.

On one hand, the company is looking to extract more value from its library, while juggling existing output deals with free and pay-TV platforms.

In that sense, Hayu represents an interesting new outlet for Australia, one of NBCU's largest markets in APAC.

NBCU's pop culture offering E!, carried in Australia by pay-TV platforms Foxtel and Fetch TV, features Keeping Up With The Kardashians and I Am Cait for example, while in-house Foxtel channel Arena relies heavily on NBCU fare.

Shows such as The Real Housewives and Million Dollar Listing also air on new digital free-to-air channel 9Life, launched late last year by broadcast major Nine Entertainment.

At the same time however, a new SVOD portfolfio gives NBCU scope to try out different formats, talent and interactive add-ons, all designed with online consumption for different verticals in mind.

While Hayu’s portfolio in the UK, Ireland and Australia includes day-and-date episodes for most new series, as well as box sets of completed series unavailable via other legal channels, subscribers also get made-to-be-shared short-form content, newsfeeds and social media updates covering Hayu shows and talent.

“We know that reality content is a primary driver of social interaction, and that fans of reality TV significantly over-index in online viewing,” NBCU International president Kevin MacLellan remarked in last week’s announcement.

The arrival of these new services, which executives hope will co-exist with online extensions of TV channel brands, also challenges the OTT ecosystem as a whole, to help consumers make sense of this increasing fragmentation.

After an initial free-month trial, Hayu will cost A$5.99 (US$4.30) in Australia, €4.99 (US$5.60) in Ireland and £3.99 (US$5.80) in the UK.

Seeso, meanwhile, has been priced at US$3.90/month.

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