NBCU’s Hybrid Streamer Peacock Hits 26 Million Subscribers


By Richard Middleton

NBCUniversal’s fledgling streamer Peacock has racked up 26 million subscribers since launch, according to CEO Jeff Shell.

The hybrid OTT service, which offers AVOD and SVOD options to customers, was launched to customers of NBCU parent Comcast in April before being rolled out across the US in mid-July.

It had attracted 22 million sign-ups by October 29 and Comcast has said it expects the service will reach 35 million subscribers by the end of 2024.

Shell, who was talking at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Investor Conference yesterday, said further growth was expected as the service packed out its content offering.

The streamer’s catalogue runs to around 20,000 hours and includes programming from sibling networks and studios such as NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Syfy, Oxygen and E!, with This Is Us and The Blacklist among series on the slate.

Originals such as the rebooted Saved By The Bell are in the works along with the now-cancelled Brave New World, while third-party shows are also available. Yellowstone – the hit Paramount Network drama – was reportedly among its most popular show following launch.

“The momentum just continues in a very strong linear way. And we don’t have any of our strong programming yet,” Shell continued.

“We get The Office (US) exclusively on 1 January, which is one of Netflix’s top shows. If you try to watch it on Netflix right now, it’s pretty hard to find it but despite the fact that they’re making it harder to find, it’s still – particularly among people under the age of 34 – a top show.”

Shell added that the pandemic had added between 10 per cent and 20 per cent to most of NBCU’s production budgets, with more than 30 TV shows currently in the works in LA under its Universal banner.

He also confirmed that spending on new programming would continue to increase, with much of that targeted at Peacock. The streamer is also set to add library shows such as the US version of The Office to its offering in January followed by the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

The NBCU CEO also referenced the wholesale restructuring that has occurred over the past few months, which has seen the creation of NBCU’s Television & streaming division run by Mark Lazarus.

Lazarus has since brought in former Warner Bros. exec Susan Rovner to become chairman of entertainment at NBCU’s new-look TV and streaming division, while Frances Berwick leads the business side of the operation.

Numerous job losses have resulted but Shell said the restructuring was vital to put the focus on Peacock and required because of a change in viewing habits, as well as the impact of COVID.

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