The trajectory of Comcast’s premium streaming service Peacock has been puzzling to many consumers and industry watchers since it launched in July 2020. Despite not yet achieving the cultural cache of many of its competitors, company executives have long argued that the streamer was not only successful , but actually did exactly what it was designed to do.
Whether it was bravado, hubris or foresight, it appears that the confidence that NBCUniversal executives have placed in the platform is beginning to pay off. At the UBS investor conference on Monday, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell announced that Peacock has reached over 18 million paying subscribers, more than doubling its total from the start of 2022 alone. It was only at the end of October that Shell revealed that the service had passed 15 million paying customers, so it’s clear that momentum continues with a strong slate of programming additions.
The World Cup, which started in late November, has reportedly been a huge success for Peacock, which broadcasts the Spanish-language telecasts of all the tournament’s matches via Telemundo. These broadcasts are the only live broadcasts of the matches on a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service in the United States. Free streamer Tubi has the English broadcasts on-demand after they finish airing on linear corporate siblings FOX and FS1.
But last week it was reported that Peacock had shot up the download charts on several platforms, primarily due to interest in the tournament. The key, of course, will be to keep these new customers engaged and excited about the service to ensure they don’t unsubscribe when the World Cup ends. To that point, no doubt helped by World Cup fever, Shell also noted that paying Peacock customers average over 20 hours of viewing time per month.
The NBCU boss also reported a fact that Comcast investors will likely be thankful for this holiday season, which is that Peacock’s monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) approached $10, despite the top subscription tier being just $9.99 per month. Thanks to the platform’s dual SVOD and ad-supported models, NBCU has the ability to monetize via multiple avenues, pushing revenue higher. That sum is remarkable considering that this fall Peacock had offered a deal where customers could sign up for the ad-supported Premium subscription for just $0.99 per month for an entire year, down from the normal $5.99.
In addition to the World Cup broadcasts, Peacock has also made a number of recent additions to round out its offerings in an effort to provide more value to customers beyond NBCUniversal’s currently airing programs, Universal films and the combined libraries of both.
The service has added local affiliates from 210 markets to its channel options for all Premium Plus subscribers. Similarly, it was reported last week that Peacock would add the five NBC regional sports networks (RSNs) to its lineup by the end of the year. While a Peacock spokesperson confirmed to The Streamable that discussions were ongoing about the option, it would not happen until 2023.
Nevertheless, after years of confusion and dismissal from the majority of the streaming and entertainment industry, Peacock finally seems to be finding its way, even if the path to (and from) this point is not what many imagined.