DTC divergence as Peacock, HBO Max register with different audiences | Media Analysis | Business
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Even though many speculated that the rash of launches of direct-to-consumer offers since autumn 2019 would lead to homogenisation and me-too products, research from Ampere Analysis has shown that for HBO Max and Peacock, the receptive audiences couldn’t be much more different.
Ampere HBO Max Peacock 19 Oct 2020
Specifically, the latest analysis of Ampere’s Consumer media consumption and behaviour tracker surveying 4,000 US Internet users showed that despite lockdown rules delaying some of the content each SVOD service had planned, at the time fieldwork in August and September 2020, 8% of US Internet households already had active subscriptions to HBO Max, and 7% were using Peacock. HBO Max launched at the end of May 2020 and NBCUniversal’s Peacock followed in July. While the two companies have revealed larger addressable subscriber bases —driven predominantly by conversion of eligible HBO and Comcast customers to the new products—Ampere says that it will take time to educate and convert all of these consumers into active users of the new OTT services.

Despite similar headline uptake figures for the service, they appeal to different audiences. HBO Max subscribers are 50% more likely than the sample average to be 25 to 44 years old, mirroring the demographics of HBO channel subscribers, who skew strongly towards this bracket. Priced at $14.99 per month, it’s one of the most expensive services available, and as a consequence attracts a more affluent customer, with the majority (69%) earning a household income of $51,000 or more. By comparison, Peacock appeals to a slightly older group – in particular, the 35 to 44-year olds. NBCUniversal's broadcast channels skew towards older age groups, and Peacock has also been more successful than HBO Max in attracting these older demographics.

The study also revealed that 19% of Peacock’s audience is over 55, compared with just 6% of HBO Max. Its audience also has a slightly lower household income profile than HBO Max, with 54% earning $51,000 or more. One of the cheapest of the major SVOD platforms, Peacock’s three-tier pricing strategy includes a free ad-supported tier which appeals to those on lower incomes. This tier includes advertisements and a smaller catalogue of content than the paid tiers, underlining said the analysis the importance of Peacock’s exclusive content in attracting paid-for customers.

“Peacock’s early adopters show that it has been successful in converting broadcast channel audiences — who are an older demographic and typically more difficult to convert — into SVOD subscribers, allowing it to play in an arena that is generally less competitive,” observed Annabel Yeomans, senior analyst at Ampere Analysis. “HBO Max has yet to diversify its audience away from that of the HBO premium channel — whose mix of high-end drama, comedy and documentaries have a particular demographic appeal — but the array of new family and scripted series are aimed at doing precisely this. Nonetheless this is an already-crowded market with strong competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and Apple TV+, so while increasing the diversity of catalogues and quality of original content will be key to driving scale, playing to each services’ brand and audience strengths should also not be forgotten.”

The focus for commissions on both services is comedy, which represents 40% of Peacock’s upcoming original content and 31% of HBO Max’s. Ampere’s research found that comedy is the most important genre for Peacock’s subscribers and second for HBO Max’s audience. Second in terms of the number of upcoming commissions for Peacock are documentaries. With the documentary genre proportionally more popular among older age groups, the analysis suggests that the genre is likely to reinforce the appeal of Peacock among older audiences. For drama and sci-fi & fantasy, which have been a key staple for subscription OTT service providers to-date, Peacock looks set to rely on reboots of favourites including Battlestar Galactica to reach a wider audience.