NBC launches reality TV subscription VOD service
James R | On 13, Feb 2016
NBC is launching a new VOD service dedicated to reality TV. The platform, called “hayu”, will allow people to stream over 3,000 episodes of its reality shows, which include Made in Chelsea, The Real Housewives and Keeping Up with The Kardashians.
The new service, which is dubbed by NBC as the first of its kind, is good news for reality TV fans, as they can keep up with The Kardashians all they like. It’s good news for Netflix UK and other VOD service subscribers too, because it means they won’t have to keep scrolling past The Kardashians when browsing for things to watch.
The site will launch in the UK, Ireland and Australia, at a cost of £3.99 a month, contract-free. Episodes will usually arrive on the site on the same day as they air in the US, with box sets of older shows also available. (In the case of Made in Chelsea, which is licenced by Channel 4, hayu will focus on streaming older seasons of the show.)
It marks the latest step in a string of broadcasters seeking to start their own cord-cutting OTT services to connect directly with customers – CBS is rebooting Star Trek as an exclusive show for its streaming platform CBS All Access, while HBO has launched HBO Now to encourage people to stream Game of Thrones legally.
For NBC, like HBO and their fantasy epic, hayu is a way to make content more easily accessible in non-US countries – particularly markets where pirates has been active. Around 50 shows on the service have never been officially broadcast in the UK.
“There are multiple networks that we run seven days a week in the US,” says NBCUniversal chairman Kevin MacLellan, in an exclusive interview with DTVE. “There is a lot of that content that people are pirating online, so we know they want to see it but don’t know where to get it. My hope is that this service will take that reality content and get people more interested by allowing them to watch more episodes and watch seasons from the beginning…and that will help drive people to the linear services as well.”
MacLellan said it was difficult to forecast subscriber numbers, but that they would be able to adapt and make changes in response to how consumers react.
“I’m really not as focused – certainly at the beginning – on how many subscribers there are but on how people are engaging with it. My feeling is we can change it in real time and make it more appealing. In a year’s time I will start to look at what the numbers should be.”
Alongside the programmes, there will also be short-form video content to be shared via users’ social media accounts and the service will link directly to a range of third-party news sites too, such as OK! Magazine.
The home page will be curated by people who change the content to reflect what’s happening in the news, while curated collections of tweets and Instagram posts from reality TV stars will also be showcased. The platform will be led by Hendrik McDermott, currently NBCUniversal’s senior vice-president branded on-demand, while Phebe Hunnicutt, digital director of Elle at Hearst Magazines UK, will head up the editorial team looking after the site’s overall feel.
Whether you will be racing to sign up to hayu or not, the site could prove groundbreaking in other ways: in a sign of what could become a trend among VOD services, hayu will also let viewers rate content using emojis.
The site will go live in March, with the exact launch date to be confirmed.