Comcast plans to launch NBCU streaming service in April

Comcast said Thursday it’s targeting next April to launch a new streaming service that will compete with Netflix.

Steve Burke, boss of Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit, said Thursday that he has enlisted about 500 employees to work on the service, which will go head to head with a growing crop of streaming services that already include Amazon and Hulu, as well as newcomers from Disney and WarnerMedia.

Comcast, which acquired a majority stake in European pay-TV giant Sky last year, said it will model its app on Sky’s UK-based Now TV streaming service.

Unlike its rivals, NBCU’s app will be free for pay-TV subscribers and include advertisements. The app will also be offered to customers without cable TV for a fee, which will be announced closer to the April launch.

Burke said that the service will include content from NBCU’s TV and film libraries, as well as original and acquired programming.

He added that the bulk of the app’s initial programming will be acquired, which is similar to Netflix in its early days. Last month, NBCU said it would pull its sitcom “The Office” from Netflix, which is its top-rated show, in 2021.

“Our service is very different from Netflix,” the exec said. “We see ‘The Office’ as being one of the tentpole programs on our platform.”

Comcast reported a 2.8-percent dip in second-quarter profits to $3.13 billion or 68 cents a share from a year ago. Excluding adjustments, Comcast’s earnings rose 13 percent to $3.61 billion, or 78 cents a share, besting analysts’ estimates of 75 cents a share.

Quarterly revenue rose 23.6 percent to $26.86 billion due mainly to the company’s acquisition of Sky last fall. Analysts expected revenue of $27.06 billion. Sales at NBCU, which includes the NBC broadcast channel USA network, and the Universal film studio, totaled $8.2 billion, roughly flat from a year ago.

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