Peacock launches without Roku and Amazon Fire TV, entrenching a battle line


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Peacock, the streaming service from Comcast’s NBCUniversal, launched Wednesday across a range of the biggest devices. But Peacock is missing from the two most popular devices to stream to televisions: Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV. And signs don’t look good that the new streaming service will support them anytime soon. 


Peacock failing to launch with Roku and Fire TV repeats HBO Max’s rollout in May. Failing to reach their own distribution deals, HBO Max is still missing from Roku and Fire TV more than a month after launch, with no news about progress since. It marks a new period in the evolution of streaming video, in which the most powerful TV-app distributors and deep-pocketed media companies are standing off with each other for control of the data and money generated by your streaming activity, as they both try to entrench their positions of power for the next era of TV. 


Peacock said Tuesday that it is in talks with additional partners. 


“The Peacock app is ready to launch across platforms with the flip of a switch,” a Peacock spokeswoman said. “We think it’s important for consumers to know that Peacock is free to use and free to any platform who wants to distribute it. If Peacock is not available on a platform at launch, it is not because we didn’t make it available, and it’s not because we didn’t make it available for free.”


“Consumers have purchased these devices with the expectation they will be able to access all of the apps, so our hope is that all platforms will do right by their users and carry it,” she added


Amazon and Roku didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday morning. As of Tuesday, Amazon and Roku both declined to comment. 


Streaming has grown more popular than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, and Roku and Amazon Fire TV products are the most pervasive ways to stream on televisions in the US. Together, the two companies’ streaming devices and smart TVs make up 70% of all the streaming devices installed in the US last year, and they reach roughly 80 million active users between them. 


But rather than serving as neutral platforms for apps, Roku and Amazon both have become more assertive in their talks with new streaming services lately, and media companies are more invested in reaping the most reward possible from their products, leading to impasses. 


Peacock has support for other streaming-TV devices, like Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast, Microsoft’s Xbox One and now Sony PlayStation 4, among others. Peacock’s app is also confirmed for Vizio’s SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs, and the service will be available on mobile devices too. 


Competing with the likes of Netflix, Disney PlusHBO Max and others, Peacock is the last big new service to roll out in the so-called “streaming wars,” when a flood of services spilled out from tech and media giants over a roughly seven-month period. In the case of Peacock, it means even a traditional TV and cable company like Comcast is betting that the tide of cord-cutting won’t turn. 


These competitive battles will shape the fate of companies vying to rule television’s future, but they’ll also affect how many services you have to use and pay for to watch your favorite TV and movies.And the stand-offs pitting distribution companies like Roku and Amazon against streaming services like Comcast’s Peacock and AT&T’s HBO Max can hamstring viewers from watching on some of their favorite devices. 


Peacock launched Wednesday in the US with an always-free tier that lets you sample about two-thirds its library with advertising, as well as premium tiers that unlock the full catalog. Peacock Premiumis $5 a month or $50 a year with advertising, or you can upgrade to an ad-free version for $10 a month or $100 a year. 


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