When Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on a Thursday earnings conference call that Peacock had the “most live sports of any streaming service,” it was a reiteration of a claim made on the company’s site, and one that analysts moved on without much fanfare.
But DIRECTV is taking issue with that claim.
“That unsubstantiated hubris is unfortunate as it muddies the water for consumers truly looking to stream the best sports experience,” DIRECTV spokesman Jon Greer told Cord Cutters News in an email on Friday.
As DIRECTV sees it, its own TV service, which can be streamed over the internet through DIRECTV via internet or DIRECTV Stream, offers a ton more live sports programming, including much of what’s offered on Peacock. But it also includes programming through ESPN, Fox Sports and is essentially the traditional pay-TV lineup.
A Peacock spokesman declined to comment.
The criticism is a bit unfair, since comparing DIRECTV over internet or DIRECTV Stream, which is effectively a cable TV service running on the internet, with Peacock, which is a Netflix-like subscription service, is very much an extreme example of an apples-to-oranges. For instance, the discounted starting price of DIRECTV Stream is $64.99 a month, while Peacock costs $5.99 a month. A better comparison would’ve been with Xfinity Stream, which like DIRECTV Stream, is essentially the cable TV experience with all the sports and local channels delivered over the internet and offers an equivalent amount of live sports.
But Roberts didn’t mention Xfinity Stream, which brings us back to DIRECTV’s complaint. It raises a bigger question over the term “streaming service,” and how it now encompasses so many different things. In this case, the definition’s being stretched too far or not enough, depending on which side you sit.
At its core, a streaming service as any content that is delivered via the internet. By that broad definition, DIRECTV makes a valid point. But a quick look at the services shows the dramatic differences between the two.
The real question is whether consumers are knowledgeable enough to understand those differences. DIRECTV Stream is a vMVPD, or virtual multichannel video programming distributor, effectively a cable TV provider that runs over the internet. Peacock is known as an SVOD, or subscription video on demand service. Industry experts and analysts may get the distinction, but it’s less clear if an average consumer would appreciate the difference (let alone know those jargon-filled acronyms).
The term is complicated by the fact that over the last few years, “streaming services” has been short hand for Netflix-like offerings. The “streaming wars” that have been fought over the last few years have only applied to subscription services like Disney+, Paramount+, Max, and Peacock. Roberts was likely referring to them when making his comments.
Services like DIRECTV Stream, more akin to YouTube TV, Fubo or Philo, operated during the streaming wars but weren’t a part of them. At Cord Cutters News, we refer to them as live TV streaming services.
DIRECTV would argue that the lines are blurring since these streaming services are increasingly offering live content. But there’s still a massive gap between what a live streaming service offers and what you would get from a subscription video on-demand service, even if there’s a smattering of live content, whether its Peacock’s live sports or Max’s sports tier or CNN Max.
Peacock backs up its claim with a promise of more than 8,000 hours of live sports. In comparison, Greer noted that DIRECTV delivers tens of thousands of hours of live sports. Again, streaming versions of cable offerings like Xfinity Stream likely have similar, if not more, hours.
Here’s Roberts line from Thursday: “With Peacock now, we have the most live sports of any of the streaming services. And I believe that that’s a surprise to many people when they learn that, and I believe that to be the case.” Peacock’s site makes a similar claim, although it refers to itself as a “streamer.” Update: After the story came out, Peacock removed the claim from its site.
Savvier customers are likely to see the extreme difference. Where do you stand on the definition of “streaming service”?