How TV Streaming Services Seduce Consumers

NBCUniversal Peacock Logo

NBCUniversal Peacock LogoMany of the TV streaming services use tried-and-true marketing techniques to lure customers into subscriptions they can’t fully use.

The basic ideas for closing a deal with potential subscribers are all plain to see in the NBCUniversal press release for its new streaming service, Peacock.

There are three techniques invoked here: 1) Appeal to nostalgia, 2) appeal to hoarding, and 3) glossing over ad-supported material in a DVR-centric environment.
Heres how it works.

1. Appeal to nostalgia. Prominent in the announcement is a cataloging of previous shows that will be available to subscribers.

As previously announced, Peacock will offer some of the most popular NBC and classic TV series of all time, including “30 Rock,” “Bates Motel,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Cheers,” “Chrisley Knows Best,” “Covert Affairs,” “Downton Abbey,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier,” “Friday Night Lights,” “House,” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “King of Queens,” “Married…With Children,” “Monk,” “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Parenthood,” “Psych,” “Royal Pains,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Superstore,” and “Will & Grace.”

These are all fine TV shows that were successful in the past. But who can afford to re-live the past, with some dated shows, considering all the new content available nowadays? Sure, not every person is interested in every show, but the flavor of the release suggests a glorious cornucopia of beloved favorites for one to indulge in. NBCUniversal gets to cash in on old vault material. Time, however, marches on. As do we.

That’s probably why Apple didn’t seem to try too hard to acquire an existing library of shows to back up the original content of Apple TV+.

2. Appeal to hoarding. Similar to #1 is the notion that the subscriber will have easy access to a very large selection of material: previous shows plus original content plus live talk shows and sports.

Never mind the fact that no normal human being who probably already subscribes to, at least, Netflix and Amazon can consume all the provided content. NBCUniversal likely won’t have much of a duty cycle for any given subscriber.

So the cost per viewed item turns out to be very favorable. Even so, the psychological trap is the illusion of a huge amount of content for a reasonable monthly price.

3. Glossing over ad-supported material. Comcast and Cox subscribers will receive “Peacock Free,” bundled with current service. “Peacock Premium” is US$4.99/month for “non-bundled customers.” But that level is ad-supported. It’ll be like the days before DVRs.

The studios would like nothing better than to eliminate the middle-man (cable companies, unless they’re working closely together) and those pesky DVRs that allow the customer to skip over ads. Direct, non-licensed, ad-supported delivery is Nirvana. It maintains a double revenue stream. But if the customer really wants ad-free content, the Peacock “Premium” price doubles to a whopping $9.99/month.

That’s a price guaranteed to give the customer pause in the face of $6.99/month (nominally) from Disney+. The effect is to drive the customers back 20 years into an ad-supported world, heavy on corporate profits.


Subscription TV streaming services look like a good deal. They’e designed to be as alluring as possible by appealing to human emotions and defective logic. Many consumers fall for it and end up spending way too much money, quite by accident.

Many of the streaming TV services use one or more of the above techniques. It’s something to watch for.

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