Comcast’s NBCUniversal Says Peacock Hit 33 Million Signups


NBCU’s streaming service Peacock has hit 33 million signups across the U.S. to date, parent Comcast said Thursday.

That’s up from 28 million on Dec. 8 when execs last updated the figure at an investor conference. Peacock launched nationally in July with two tiers. Peacock Premium, $4.99 a month with ads, and Peacock Premium Plus, $9.99 with no ads. Peacock Premium comes free to some Comcast and Cox subscribers.

As the streaming wars intensify, NBCU has been moving to shore up Peacock with new additions like sports, which will migrate from the shuttering NBCSN network, bringing in the NHL, NASCAR and Premier League soccer, to a deal absorbing WWE’s content and 1.1 million subscribers.

Comcast saw fourth quarter revenue and adjusted EPS dip from the year earlier but beat expectations at, respectively, $27.7 billion and $0.56 a share. Shares were up nearly 4% in pre-market trading.

Results were driven by a strong performance at cable, which added 538,000 net new broadband customers. Cable revenue rose to nearly $16 billion on operating profit of about $6 billion. Revenue at NBCUniversal was down across the board, most sharply at theme parks, where it fell 63% to $579 million from $1.62 billion — although two theme parks, in Orlando and Osaka, reached breakeven. Universal Studios Hollywood park has been shut since March.

Filmed entertainment saw sales dip 8% to $1.4 billion. However, operating profit surged 65% to $151 million as lower revenue was offset by even lower advertising, marketing and promotion costs given the reduced number of releases.

Theatrical revenue plunged 70% with theaters closed. Content licensing revenue increased 23%, driven by the performance of certain 2020 releases that were made available on premium video on demand, including The Croods: A New Age.

Cable networks revenue dipped as ad sales fell, reflecting continued ratings declines at and reduced spending from advertisers related to the Covid-related delayed start of some professional sports seasons. Content licensing. Distribution revenue was flat with the year before as subscriber declines were offset by rate increases.

But as in film, cable also turned a profit on much lower programming and production costs, mostly for sports.

Broadcast television saw ad revenue drop by nearly 10% on continued ratings declines as new series were delayed by Covid-19 — only partly offset by an increase in local political advertising and higher pricing.

Content licensing revenue decreased 39%, reflecting the timing of content provided. Distribution revenue rose 10% on higher retransmission consent fees.

Total broadcast revenue fell 12%, operating profit dropped 24%.

Sky made strides, returning to customer growth and bringing total customer relationships and overall revenue in Europe
essentially back to 2019 levels.

“With the vaccines rolling out throughout the world, we are optimistic that the parts of our business that had been most impacted will soon be back on a path towards growth,” said CEO Brian Roberts.

He called the last period “the most challenging we have faced” but in a sign of optimism said Comcast is increasing the dividend (for the 13th consecutive year) and expects to start buying back stock in the back half of 2021.


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