Universal movies to stream on Amazon after Peacock

Purgers in "The Forever Purge," directed by Everardo Valerio Gout.
(Jake Giles Netter/Universal Pictures)

Universal Pictures’ new live-action movies will stream on Amazon’s video service after they’re available on the studio’s sibling service Peacock, a complicated pact that upends the traditional pay-TV output deal for films.

Comcast Corp.-owned Universal earlier this week disclosed a five-year deal starting in 2022 to send its movies — including “Jurassic World: Dominion” — to Peacock no later than four months after they hit theaters.

After four months on Peacock, the live-action films will head to Amazon Prime Video for 10 months. Following that period, they will circle back to Peacock for the next four months.


The unusual deal is an overhaul of the typical arrangement studios make with streaming services like Netflix and pay-TV networks like HBO. Such deals usually mean the movies are available on the chosen streaming service or network for 18 months for a period that begins six to nine months after their theatrical release. Generally, such deals are worth $200 million to $300 million in annual licensing revenue.

NBCUniversal has come up with an unusual strategy to use Universal Pictures movies to boost Peacock.

July 6, 2021

Instead, Universal is splitting its so-called “Pay 1” window into three sections. The hybrid approach could help Comcast and its subsidiary NBCUniversal boost Peacock’s subscriber base. Peacock, which launched a year ago, has signed up 42 million accounts, according to the company, but the vast majority aren’t paying.

According to estimates by MoffettNathanson, based on data from analytics firm Antenna, Peacock has only about 3 million domestic users who pay for either its ad-supported $5-a-month plan or its $10-a-month ad-free offering. Comcast does not disclose paid subscriber numbers for Peacock.

The complicated approach also shows that NBCUniversal isn’t as willing as competitors to abandon the hundreds of millions in licensing fees they can get for selling their movies to streamers.

The deal for live-action movies replaces Universal’s longtime agreement with HBO, owned by WarnerMedia, which is using films to fuel growth at streaming service HBO Max.

Not included in Amazon’s 10-month streaming window are Universal’s upcoming animated films from in-house studios DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment, which will go to yet another undisclosed partner. Amazon, however, will receive the animated titles through an additional, later window.


Additionally, Amazon’s free ad-supported streaming service IMDb TV will have the network rights to Universal titles that came out in 2020 and 2021, including the recently released “F9: The Fast Saga,” the companies said.

The pact benefits Amazon, which has been spending billions on content to bolster its online video business.

The Seattle e-commerce giant in March signed a 10-year deal with the NFL to stream a certain number of games a season, agreeing to pay about $1.2 billion a year. Amazon has also said it will pay $8.45 billion to buy MGM Studios, home of the James Bond and Rocky films.

The Amazon-NBCUniversal deal is the latest agreement between the two companies. Last month, Amazon and NBCUniversal signed a deal to make Peacock available on Amazon’s Fire TV platform.