While there are a variety of streaming services out there for people to enjoy, one of the things that separates many of them is their decision on the use of commercials. Netflix and Disney+, up to this point, have not had them. There are also completely free streaming options that rely on ads to make any money at all. Others, like Hulu, have different priced options allowing users to avoid commercials if they’re willing to pay for it.
Now, on the heels of news that Netflix and Disney+ will be adding ad-supported options to their service, another streaming service, Comcast’s Peacock, has unveiled a new way to increase ad revenue for its free streaming tier, by making users look at ads during the show they are watching.
Rather than simply taking a break to run ads in the middle of the show, Variety has announced that Peacock will begin serving ads by putting a frame around the show being watched, which is sponsored by an advertiser. There may also be interactive elements in the frame, allowing viewers to shop for the product being shown during the show.
Most of us are used to watching advertising in one form or another, but this idea is a particularly aggressive form of getting the ads in front of the eyes of viewers. In the same way that advertising itself is now becoming more popular with streamers, one has to wonder if this method of advertising will also become more widespread as time goes on.
While Peacock has a version of its service that eliminates ads, the majority of viewers reportedly use the free version of Peacock, which means the ads are all the more important to the bottom line of the service. One assumes that this new frame will be in addition to any other ads that interrupt the programming.
On the one hand, the frame may not be that big a deal to some of those watching content on Peacock. While it will mean that the thing being viewed won’t fill the screen like it once did, it’s possible that most people will be able to simply tune it out and enjoy their show. On the other hand, it’s possible that some could find it so disruptive that they might opt to pay for the ad-free Peacock service simply to make it go away, which may be part of the idea.
Peacock does have quite a few things going for it. Will Smith’s Bel-Air certainly had a lot of interest and it’s also the home of the WWE. As with most streaming services, it has a lot of content that will certainly attract many viewers, the big question is if it really has enough people willing to pay for it.
What’s clear is that the future of streaming services is advertising. Netflix, still the biggest of the streaming services, is planning to add a new tier to its service that will include advertising, and Disney+, already one of the least expensive ad-free streaming options, will be adding an even cheaper option soon that will include ads as well.