As the streaming video wars have heated up, everyone and their neighbor seem to have tried to get into the business. Some companies without in-house production companies have done well until purchasing those production facilities. The companies with existing content and production, however, seem to have a lot of success in the space: Discovery (Discovery+), Turner and Time Warner (HBO Max), ViacomCBS (Paramount+), Disney and Fox (Disney+ and Hulu), and NBCUniversal (Peacock). But Universal is taking a slightly different approach.
Companies like Disney have begun moving to bring all of its content into their streaming services exclusively. For example, Marvel movies have disappeared from everything from Disney+. However, a pair of announcements from Universal show a hybrid approach. Initially, all future Universal films, starting in 2022, will premiere on the company's Peacock shortly after theatrical releases, as one would expect. But, unlike other companies, this exclusivity will not be permanent.
The second announcement begins where the Peacock exclusivity ends. After Peacock's period ends, all Universal films will move to Amazon Prime Video exclusively. This is clearly a big deal for Amazon, whose service has been working hard to shore up its offerings, including big contracts and studio acquisitions.
The move, however, shows once again that Universal is willing to experiment with different business models for its streaming business. Peacock bucked the trend with its launch offering a freemium model, with some content being available with no fee, but ad-supported. This was a model that Hulu had in its past, when Universal was a major investor. Now, they are bucking the trend again, not forcing exclusivity on its own platform, but instead embracing alternate options.
We'll see in time whether this move helps or hurts both Universal and Peacock. The brand is likely not your first thought when thinking about streaming, and brute force (like Disney's approach) could change that, but also creates some pushback.