Peacock Productions spreads its wings

Peacock Productions is in the enviable position of being able to share in American broadcast net NBC's wealth of resources, as it is housed within the NBC News Division. Peacock EVP Sharon Scott and Benjamin Ringe, co-EVP and VP of development, tell realscreen about what's on its slate and the benefits of being under the NBC umbrella.
March 31, 2010

Peacock Productions is the non-fiction production arm of American broadcast net NBC’s news division. And although its output isn’t news driven, Peacock EVP Sharon Scott and Benjamin Ringe, SVP say that Peacock is still the benefactor of breaking news by using NBC’s infrastructure to gain access to the talent that strolls through 30 Rock.

Peacock Productions most recently made its own news with the announcement that it would be developing a show around hair stylist Nick Arrojo – last seen on TV as TLC’s What Not to Wear resident hair makeover specialist. ‘We’re very lucky at Peacock Productions to be a clearing house for great ideas and great talent that comes through [NBC's headquarters],’ says Ringe. ‘We meet a lot of people and Nick captured our imaginations with his talent and what he’s doing in Manhattan in the style world.’ The show currently does not have a network attached.

‘The fact that we are able to use the infrastructure of NBC is so incredibly valuable because we’re able to ramp up and ramp down very quickly,’ says Scott. ‘We’re able to use the legal help, the editing facilities and everything that we can capture as part of a really big company, but then we’re able to tailor our productions to meet the client’s need.’ Those clients aren’t just under the NBC Universal umbrella. Fifty percent of Peacock’s output is for companies outside of NBCU, including projects such as Discovery Channel’s Did the Mob Kill JFK? and Disappeared on Investigation Discovery.

‘I’m embarrassed to say that we have almost 100 ideas we’re developing at different levels,’ says Ringe. NBC staples such as The Today Show and Dateline can help in feeding development ideas to the Peacock team.

‘When people show up for an interview, or part of another piece, it’s our job to identify who might have potential,’ says Scott. ‘And then we [can] sign them up or work to develop shows with them, so we have a lot of shows going on.’

In Peacock’s development slate for NBCU-owned channels are shows for the Weather Channel, including one following two dynamic storm chasers; a two-hour film for MSNBC about the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh and programming for SyFy, including a two-hour factual program about SyFy’s dramatic comedy series Warehouse 13.

Even with all the volume, Scott says Peacock keeps quality top of mind. ‘A big part of our process is making sure that our quality stays very high because when all is said and done we have NBC’s name behind us,’ says Scott. ‘So we have to make sure that [in] every project what we do is up to par.’

Scott says Peacock is at work on an international growth strategy. Currently, the network-owned prodco has an office in London and its work is distributed around the world. ‘What we want to do is create original programming outside the U.S.,’ she says. ‘We’re also focusing on formats and how we can create formats that can be [adapted for] other territories.’

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.