Despite millions in losses, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said NBCU’s streaming service Peacock had an “exceptional” first quarter.
Peacock added 4 million paid subscribers during the quarter, giving it more than 13 million paid subscribers and 28 million monthly active accounts, Roberts disclosed during Comcast’s first quarter earnings call. He said hours of engagement increased 25%.
In the last few quarters, NBCU had declined to provide user figures for Peacock, even while reporting its financial losses and revenue. In the first quarter, Peacock lost $456 million in revenue of $472 million.
Peacock got a boost from the Olympics and Super Bowl, as well as the launch of the series Bel Air, which he called Peacock’s most successful original as well as the film Marry Me, Roberts said.
Roberts said that NBCU improved the way Olympic events were made available on Peacock, making them earth to find.
At a time when Netflix is losing subscribers and the streaming business is slowing overall, Roberts was careful not to raise expectations for Peacock too high.
“We do not anticipate seeing this type of growth every quarter. We just expanded our total paid subscriber by over 40%, so we expect more modest subscriber gains until we get to the back half of this year.”
He said in the fourth quarter Peacock will be helped by Sunday Night Football, the return of the Premier League, Telemundo‘s World Cup coverage and Universal movie titles. It will also be the only place where NBC shows can be seen the day after they air, with the previous arrangement with Hulu ending.
“Peacock is a natural extension of our existing video business with two revenue streams and full integration across every aspect, whether it’s programming cross-promotion or advertising,“ he said. ”Peacock builds audiences, extends our reach and creates new consumer experiences within our ecosystem, which should enable video to be a major long-term growth driver for NBCUniversal.”
Roberts also said Peacock would benefit from the streaming joint venture with Charter Communications announced Wednesday.
Peacock will be integrated into the new platform, just as it is on X1 and Flex, Roberts said, which should expand Peacock’s customer base, drive higher engagement and result in greater monetization for NBCU.
Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, also said Peacock had an “exceptional” quarter and that the company was pursuing the right business model, running the service as an extension of its TV business in terms of programming and ad sales.
“The noise in the rest of the stream business really if anything just validates what we’re doing,” Shell said. “We have shown we’re willing to be flexible and change our business model as we see things evolve.”
He said Peacock shifted to more of an AVOD model when it saw success early. “Obviously as things change in the streaming market we’ll continue to evaluate and shift, but right now we’re really happy with both our business model and how we’re performing.” ■
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.