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NBC’s Peacock Launches With Free Tier to Compete in Streaming Wars, But Local Stations are Boycotting It By Refusing to Air “30 Rock” Special

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  • In a bid to compete with an increasingly competitive streaming market, NBC launched its streaming service Peacock on Wednesday with a free, ad-supported tier.
  • That tier contains about two-thirds of Peacock’s entire catalogue, with the rest being locked behind two different premium tiers: one ad-supported and one ad-free.
  • At the same time, most local NBC stations in the United States are refusing to air an upcoming “30 Rock” reunion special that will essentially be a giant advertisement for Peacock.
  • The reason NBC affiliates are boycotting the special is because they’re afraid Peacock will kill their viewership as people shift to online streaming.
  • Because of the boycott, reportedly, only about 40% of the country will be able to watch the special when it first airs. 

30 Rock” Special Boycotted By Affiliates

Major local TV station groups are preparing for a battle with NBCUniversal and its new streaming service Peacock, which launched Wednesday.

The casualty? “30 Rock,” a show which originally aired from 2006 to 2013, starring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracey Morgan, and Jane Krakowski. 

As a way to boost its promotion of Peacock, NBC developed a one-hour “30 Rock” reunion special which is set to air Thursday night. In fact, the special is going to be so much of a promotion that, according to Vulture, it won’t include any traditional commercials and was even produced by NBCUniversal’s ad-sales division. 

However, that decision has left local NBC affiliate groups feeling like they’re being sidelined by NBCUniversal so that it can push its new streaming service. Because of that, it’s now being reported that most local NBC stations across the United States will refuse to air the “30 Rock” reunion.

In fact, the decision to boycott this special mainly comes directly from the massive media groups that own these local stations—not the stations themselves. That includes Gray Television, Hearst, Nexstar, Tegna, and Sinclair. Notably, Nexstar and Sinclair are the two largest owners of local stations in the country and control hundreds of stations each. 

The boycott will reportedly be so extensive that only about 40% of the country will even have the ability to watch that special when it first airs. 

“Station owners are understandably worried about Peacock siphoning viewers from linear TV, particularly since the new platform will offer next-day reruns of NBC shows on its premium tier (and week-late access to reruns on its free level),” Vulture reported.

It’s not unusual for local TV stations to interrupt shows for sports coverage or when there’s severe weather (or even if they’re concerned a program is too controversial), but it is unprecedented for multiple, major broadcast groups to have their stations all boycott a prime-time special.

Still, the decision to boycott the “30 Rock” won’t actually have any direct financial impact for NBC since it won’t be airing any commercials; however, that’s not the case for local stations airing the special. Because the hour will essentially be an uninterrupted infomercial for Peacock, those stations will be unable to air local ads—a major form of revenue for them.

While it would only mean one hour of ad revenue lost, most stations are able to sell more expensive ad slots during prime time. They’ve also already been struggling to retain advertisers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have suffered from sharp declines in ad sales.

The boycott also comes after NBCUniversal decided in January that Peacock would stream episodes of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” hours ahead of their broadcast on live TV. Notably, those shows will only air early for Premium subscribers, but it still means local TV  affiliates would essentially be airing reruns. 

That decision presented a major concern for TV stations, which must pay substantial fees for the rights to NBC shows and which are already facing declines in viewership.

It is possible, however, that the boycott could inadvertently push viewers wishing to watch the special to Peacock. In any case, cable TV will likely continue to struggle to retain viewers as they make the switch to streaming platforms. 

Peacock Launches With Free Tier

On top of the push and pull between cable and streaming services, competition among streaming providers is fierce. In fact, the market is already saturated with options such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBOMax, CBS All Access, and Apple TV+.

Because of that, there are serious concerns about whether Peacock can stay afloat in an industry already filled with, at times, seemingly limitless options on what to watch. For example, Apple TV+, which launched in November, has never attracted the viewership it had hoped to achieve. That’s despite heavily pushing a series headlined by Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell.

However, the major difference between Peacock and other platforms is that Peacock is free—well, sort of. Along with two different premium tiers, it’s also offering a free tier with roughly 13,000 hours of content. 

Under the free tier, viewers can watch whole series such as ‘This Is Us,” “Parks & Rec,” “30 Rock,” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” They can also stream full movies like the original “Jurassic Parks” and “The Matrix.”

If viewers want to see other shows, such as “Superstore,” or even a movie like “Shrek,” they will then have to upgrade to a premium tier, which will unlock about 7,000 more hours of additional content.

“The ‘freemium’ model will be the secret weapon for Peacock to win against the other big streaming services,” Michael J. Wolf, chief executive of the tech consulting firm Activate, told CNET. 

Wolf added that the free tier “will ensure that Peacock comes out of the gate with a large base of users and will be the service’s surest path to scale.”

Additionally, Peacock will still be able to collect revenue from the free tier, as it will be supported by ad sales. Even if viewers upgrade to the lowest premium tier, which is $5 a month, they’ll still see around 5 to 7 minutes of ads. The highest tier, which is $10 a month, is ad-free.

See what others are saying: (Vulture) (CNET) (Deadline)

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Fire at Home Reportedly Owned by Beyoncé and Jay-Z Under Arson Investigation

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Officials said there were no injuries or evacuations during the fire, which was put out in around two hours.


Fire Breaks Out at Famed Couple’s Reported Residence

A Wednesday fire at a historic home in New Orleans, Louisiana believed to be owned by music titans Beyoncé and Jay-Z is being investigated as a possible arson. 

On Thursday, a New Orleans Police Department spokesperson confirmed to multiple outlets that it had received a tip about a suspicious person in the area. Further details about the suspicious person and the cause of the fire have not been revealed.

Neighbors told local media that there is an unlocked gate on the property that outsiders sometimes use to gain entry.

Officials told The New York Post that it took 22 firefighters over two hours to extinguish the blaze, with no reported injuries or evacuations. The extent of the damage currently remains unclear, but a spokesperson told The Post that given the age of the residence, the situation could have been far more severe. 

“If [the firefighters] didn’t get there when they did, it could have been much worse,” the spokesperson said. “It’s a historic home.”

About the Home

The building was first built in the Garden District neighborhood of the city in the 1920s as a church. It was later used as a ballet school and then became a high-end residence in 2000. Realtor.com says it is currently valued at $3 million.

The home was purchased in 2015 by Sugarcane Parkin LLC. According to The Washington Post, this company has the same registered address as other entities owned by Beyoncé. Sugarcane Parkin is also allegedly managed by Beyoncé’s mother, Celestine Lawson, better known as Tina Knowles.

Representatives for the “Lemonade” singer and her husband have not issued any public statements about the incident, nor have they confirmed that the home is owned by the couple. 

In March of this year, storage units in Los Angeles belonging to Beyonce were burglarized. According to TMZ, over a million dollars of goods were stolen, including expensive dresses and handbags.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post) (NOLA)

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Cleveland’s Baseball Team Changes Name From Indians to Guardians

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The move marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans. 


Name Change Announced

Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team said Friday that it will change its name after the 2021 season from the Indians to the Guardians.

The team announced the name change with a just over two-minute video narrated by actor Tom Hanks.

“You see, there’s always been a Cleveland — that’s the best part of our name,” Hanks says in the clip. “And now it’s time to unite as one family, one community, to build the next era for this team and this city.”

This marks the team’s first name change since 1915, and it comes after decades of criticism from Native Americans. 

Despite long-running calls to change racist and offensive team names — including the Washington Redskins — such campaigns did not gain significant momentum until the nationwide racial reckoning that followed the murder of George Floyd.

Why Guardians?

Officials behind the Cleveland team first pledged to change the name last year and previously removed the “Chief Wahoo” logo, a caricature of a Native American character, from its uniforms following the 2018 season.

It toyed with several options before ultimately landing on Guardians, which draws from Cleveland’s architectural history. 

“We are excited to usher in the next era of the deep history of baseball in Cleveland,” team owner and chairman Paul Dolan said in a news release. 

“Cleveland has and always will be the most important part of our identity. Therefore, we wanted a name that strongly represents the pride, resiliency and loyalty of Clevelanders.”

“‘Guardians’ reflects those attributes that define us while drawing on the iconic Guardians of Traffic just outside the ballpark on the Hope Memorial Bridge. It brings to life the pride Clevelanders take in our city and the way we fight together for all who choose to be part of the Cleveland baseball family. While ‘Indians’ will always be a part of our history, our new name will help unify our fans and city as we are all Cleveland Guardians.”

Guardians will be the fifth name in franchise history, joining Blues (1901), Bronchos (1902), Naps (1903-14), and Indians (1915-2021).

See what others are saying:(ESPN)(Axios) (Cleveland)

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Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor Slams Megyn Kelly for “Bullying” Naomi Osaka

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Editor M.J. Day said Kelly’s attacks against Osaka are “part of the problem” when it comes to mental health discussions.


Megyn Kelly and Naomi Osaka’s Heated Twitter Exchange

The editor of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue slammed former TV news anchor Megyn Kelly Tuesday for mocking cover model and tennis star Naomi Osaka.

“It’s such bullying and it’s so unnecessary,” editor M.J. Day told People Magazine’s Every Day” podcast. “And [Osaka] did nothing wrong.” 

Osaka made history Monday by becoming the first Haitian and Japanese woman on the cover of the iconic issue. The athlete has been making headlines over the last few months for speaking openly and vulnerably about her mental health. In the spring, she said she was not going to participate in French Open press events because of the toll it takes on her as an introvert who has struggled with depression. She later withdrew from the tournament after that choice sparked backlash and likewise opted out of Wimbledon to take some “personal” time. 

Some — conservative pundits, in particular — slammed Osaka for stepping back from these roles because of her mental health, but still opting to work on other projects, including the release of a Barbie doll, a Netflix docuseries, and a handful of magazine covers. Kelly joined that bandwagon, noting that Osaka has been featured in the likes of Vogue and TIME.

“Seeing as you’re a journalist I would’ve assumed you would take the time to research what the lead times are for magazines, if you did that you would’ve found out I shot all of my covers last year,” Osaka tweeted in response, though she later deleted the post.

“Instead your first reaction is to hop on here and spew negativity, do better Megan.”

M.J. Day Says Kelly is “Part of the Problem” With Mental Health Conversations

Kelly later tweeted that Osaka blocked her on Twitter, lashing out at the tennis champion for that decision as well.

People online have been largely defending Osaka and criticizing Kelly. Many argue that it is unfair for Kelly to attack a young woman who has been vocal about dealing with mental health issues; though it’s a practice the former Fox and NBC host has made a recent habit of, likewise attacking Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry.

Day said that remarks like Kelly’s are the reason it is so hard for people to have open and honest conversations about mental health.

“I’m like, ‘You know what, you’re journalists,’” Day added. “How about you do your job and you fact check instead of jumping all over this woman for attention, for ratings, for whatever it is that they’re doing? Which is, by the way, part of the problem. It’s part of the reason why mental health is such an issue.” 

“How about we do our due diligence and make sure we know what the reality of a situation is before we come for people,” Day continued. “It broke my heart to see someone who is really living her life for the betterment of others while also trying to pursue her own passion.”

“Let her live. Let her make decisions for herself that protect her own wellbeing. It’s at no cost to anyone.”

See what others are saying: (People) (Huff Post) (The Hill)

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