Entertainment & Arts

Peacock Has 9M Stand-Alone Premium Subscribers And 7M More Via Paid Bundles; Comcast Plans Ramp-Up In Spending

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts reaffirmed the company’s approach to streaming on NBCUniversal’s Peacock, revealing new metrics and signaling a plan to boost spending on programming.

Speaking at the start of the media giant’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Roberts said Peacock’s premium tier now has 9 million stand-alone subscribers. Another 7 million subscribers come in via bundled offerings through Comcast’s platforms as well as a few other pay-TV distributors. Peacock Premium’s tier costs $5 a month with ads and $10 without, but bundled customers generally pay nothing extra. The service also has a free, ad-supported basic level.

The breakout of paid subscribers as a portion of the service’s 24.5 million monthly active users was the first offered by Comcast since Peacock launched in mid-2020.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) is approaching $10 when both subscriptions and advertising are combined, Roberts said. “We haven’t even focused on paid subscribers,” NBCU CEO Jeff Shell noted during the call.

“What we’ve learned so far is that we started with the right business model,” the CEO said. “With over 300 million hours of content consumed on Peacock per month, engagement with our platform has proved extremely valuable to our advertisers.”

Peacock sees the “vast majority” of subscribers opting for the ad-supported premium tier, as opposed to the ad-free version, per Roberts.

The service is riding a wave of increased viewing across the board, Comcast says. Roberts said annual video consumption is approaching 600 billion hours in the U.S., up from 350 billion hours in the 1990s, when broadcast TV was still leading the way. Streaming has boosted household spending 10% since 2014, he added.

Citing Nielsen data, he said 60 million U.S. households watch at least 10 hours of NBCU programming each month, which puts the company ahead of rivals.

Peacock is now three-quarters of the way to the company’s initial projections by 2024 and has also approached the ARPU goal execs laid out two years ago.

Roberts didn’t offer any exact numbers, but he said the company will boost spending on programming in order to drive more premium subscriptions. Across NBCU and Sky, annual spending is now about $20 billion, including sports rights, he estimated.

“We think the most valuable end state for Peacock is to have two revenue streams,” Roberts said. “While we will continue to leverage the more than $20 billion in annual programming spend we already have across NBCU and Sky, we are committed to reallocating and increasing investment on top of this to drive further growth in paid subscribers.”

The peak of investment in Peacock will come in 2023, Shell said.

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