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33 million flock to Peacock

NBCUniversal’s big streaming play Peacock hit 33 million subscribers by the end of 2020, parent company Comcast has said.

Peacock’s performance puts it on a similar level to WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, which had just under 38 million at the end of the year. The streamer saw steady growth from Q3, adding 11 million users.

The figures around Peacock however are provided with the caveat that the company does not externally distinguish free from paid users.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors: “Peacock has had an exceptional start, exceeding all of our internal targets. This premium hybrid AVOD service, which has a light ad load and is unlike any other, offers a breath of content that appeals to just about every demographic, at an unbeatable consumer value, much of it for free. Momentum has further accelerated with the addition of The Office, which we own and began streaming exclusively on Peacock as of January 1.”

The Office

Along with The Office – which launched on Peacock after this reporting period – Roberts highlighted the success of shows like Parks and Recreation and Yellowstone as attracting viewers, while also saying that sports including the English Premier League and NFL are also doing a good job of making the service a success.

Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson added: “We are up significantly over all of our metrics versus what we anticipated going into the business. We are only, we launched this on Comcast just over nine months ago and nationally just over six months ago, so we’re at the very beginning of this business. 

“But we are very confident based on the small amount of time that the business model has adapted the right business model, people are signing up, they are using what we have expected. And advertisers are very interested in buying it.”

In terms of revenue, finance boss Mike Cavanagh said that Peacock generated revenues of over US$100 million for the year with EBITDA losses at US$700 million. He said that “we continue to expect that EBITDA losses for 2020 and 2021 combined for Peacock will total roughly US$2 billion.”

Roberts was also asked about the upcoming Olympic Games, which will stream in the US on Peacock. The Games are currently under scrutiny, with fears that the Summer event may be cancelled. The Comcast boss however stated his confidence in the marquee event, saying “sitting here today, I believe there will be an Olympics.”

Brian Roberts

This was also the first public outing for Comcast’s execs since the deal with WWE to effectively acquire its premium streaming platform and make it part of Peacock in a deal believed to be worth US$1 billion.

On this investment, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said: “WWE is kind of a perfect property for us, because it allows us to be number one. Thousands of hours of programming that were behind a paywall that will now put on the free service of Peacock, which will not only enhance the brand of WWE, but we can monetise on advertising. We get the events that were behind a paywall that used to be pay per view and can drive our US$4.99 Premium version of Peacock.”

Overall, Comcast posted a 2.4% year-over-year revenue decline of US$27.1 billion and net income of US$3.3 billion – up 7%. It added 538,000 broadband subscribers and lost 248,000 video subscribers. Revenue for the filmed entertainment division fell by 8% while theme parks were down 63% year-over-year.