NBC CEO Jeff Shell arrives for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 06, 2021 in Sun Valley, Idaho. After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the richest and most powerful businessmen in the world of media, finance and technology will gather at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive week-long conference.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said Tuesday that the company’s film industry is doing well on the hybrid model of releasing a few films simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services, while waiting to make more available to viewers at home.

In an interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday, Shell said the pandemic-inspired movie release model has “attracted some of the best directors.”

Previously, studios typically made movies available exclusively in theaters before releasing them to viewers at home, including streaming services. That changed when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down cinemas, leading some companies to distribute movies directly to streaming services for a period of time.

Shell said breaking the traditional film release model, known as the film windowing scheme, is having a positive impact on both the cinema and streaming business.

“That windowing construct combined with the fact that streamers really want movies, movies are driving platforms, in my opinion has made the film business economically better,” said Shell.

The change in the movie’s release model during the pandemic initially caused some conflict for media companies. Some have considered releasing movies directly to streaming services on a case-by-case basis, which Shell said NBCUniversal continues to do. Others like Warner Bros. have released many of its biggest movies on its HBO Max streaming service and in theaters at the same time.

“We reacted by investing more money in the business,” Shell said Tuesday.

In many cases, the window to bring a movie to a streaming or premium video on demand service can now be as little as 45 days, halving the previous window.

ComcastNBCUniversal has continued to adapt its film-by-film approach. Some films, such as “Nope,” hit theaters before becoming available exclusively on the company’s Peacock streaming service. Others, like the latest installment of the “Halloween” movie franchise, are released in theaters and on the streaming service at the same time.

“We are making twice as many movies as our closest competitors and are buying all that content and moving it to Peacock to establish the streaming service,” said Shell.

Peacock now has 15 million paying subscribers and 30 million active accounts, Shell said Tuesday. Much of the subscriber growth has been driven by content like the company’s sports and film offerings, she said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.



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