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NBCUniversal looks to entice cord cutters with standalone comedy streaming service

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Watch out, streaming world – NBCUniversal is hoping to snag the attention of that all-important cord-cutting demographic with a new comedy-focused subscription streaming service, which it is looking to launch some time “later this year,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

The content for the new service will include some of NBC’s most popular fare, like full episodes of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and, of course, the network’s comedic staple, Saturday Night Live, which is still reeling from the high of its 40th anniversary special. But that appears to be just the entry-point for the new service, as the report claims NBC may be looking to launch some of its own original series specifically tailored to air online.

Related: From HBO to CBS, the dream of a la carte TV is coming true one stream at a time

That’s particularly interesting when you consider the fate of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – a comedy co-created by Tina Fey that was originally slated for NBC, but is now set to launch exclusively through Netflix. NBC Executive Chairman Robert Greenblatt noted after that news broke that the network was focusing on a very “drama-heavy” schedule, which played a role in the decision. Now, it looks like the network has found a new home for some of its comedy creations.

Pricing reportedly hasn’t been set yet for the service, though rumors point to anywhere from the $2.50-$3.50/month range. That price point, which falls well below more comprehensive services like CBS’ $6/month standalone app, CBS All Access. The model suggests NBCUniversal might be considering other such themed television packages, possibly branching into other genres like horror, drama, animation, or even sports. This is, of course, just speculation. But with so many networks playing their hand at this strategy it could add to the growing buffet of choices that continues to spring up, allowing customers to pick and choose from their preferred networks and content. Nickelodeon recently announced plans to launch its own streaming service, as did HBO, and others are in the works. Those add to TV Everywhere Web options that require authentication from cable subscriptions, including options from ABC and NBC itself.

Evan Shapiro, Executive Vice President of Digital Enterprises, has reportedly been tapped to lead NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.

It will be interesting to see how the arrangement works, particularly when you consider NBCUniversal’s relationship with YouTube. With shows like The Tonight Show and SNL, it’s often moments and skits that people want to see, which occasionally end up going viral. If you can no longer check them out via YouTube the day after, and must subscribe to a dedicated streaming service, this could turn consumers off, or worse, lead to more pirated content being distributed (and thus policed) online. On the other hand, if NBCUniversal finds the right balance, the new service could help to cash in on the all-important under-35 crowd itching for more great content online.

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