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As Netflix Struggles and CNN+ Shutters, Peacock Is Thriving with ‘Exceptional’ Growth, Comcast Says

Peacock closed out Q1 of 2022 with an additional 4 million paid subscribers, but executives warn that level of growth will "ebb and flow" based on streaming content.

BEL-AIR -- Season: 1 -- Pictured in this screen grab: (l-r) Jabari Banks as Will, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz -- (Photo by: Peacock)

“Bel-Air”

Peacock

Peacock has finally taken flight, thanks to exclusive content driving an increase in paid subscribers. The NBCUniversal streamer reported an added 4 million paid subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 during the Comcast Q1 earnings call April 28.

Overall, Peacock ended Q1 with over 28 million active accounts on the platform and 13 million paid users. The streamer also reported a 25 percent increase in hours of engagement.

Total users is up from 24.5 million accounts, as Comcast previously reported for the end of 2021, and that significant increase is due to the whopping amount of Q1 content to kick off 2022 — something that Comcast executives warn warranted one-off growth, which is not expected to be replicated again until Q4 of this year.

Peacock had an “exceptional quarter,” according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, with the consolidated NBCUniversal properties marking a 14 percent revenue increase to $31 billion.

The first quarter of 2022 saw Peacock stream Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Winter Olympics, which more than 200 million people watched on either NBC, Peacock, or other platforms. It was the first time in history both sporting events were held in the same week.

Most successful Peacock Original series “Bel-Air,” the re-imagined take on a modern-day “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” also debuted in Q1, along with day-and-date streaming release of Jennifer Lopez rom-com vehicle “Marry Me.”

As Comcast executives stated, the “ebbs and flows” of Peacock’s subscribers will be based on the content slate, and the streamer “does not expect the same level of increased growth going into the rest of the year.” In short, NBCUniversal expects “more modest gains” after the booming Q1.

“Peacock is a natural extension of our existing video businesses with two revenue streams, which encourages cross-promotion, and advertising,” Roberts stated during the earnings call. “Peacock builds audiences and extends our reach, and should enable video to be a long term growth driver for NBCUniversal.”

Peacock also boasted the high levels of customer retention and the lowest turn rate in history. Across platforms, fewer customers disconnected this quarter than 2019’s Q1, despite the customer base being 17 percent larger now.

The 2022 Q1 earnings call also emphasized the return of NBCUniversal theme parks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with new film-based attractions like the Velocicoaster in Orlando, Florida, and even the Super Nintendo World in Japan.

Looking ahead, Roberts said that Peacock’s Q4 “should be fantastic,” with a slew of sports events and film premieres like “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Jurassic World: Dominion,” as well as the “Vampire Academy” original series. This fall also marks the first time that Peacock will be NBC’s exclusive next-day broadcast streaming platform.

Previously, during the 2021 Q4 Comcast earnings call earlier this year, Roberts explained that at that time, the majority of Peacock’s paid users were choosing the platform’s $4.99 ad-supported tier over the $9.99 ad-free tier. The platform also has a free, albeit content-limited, option. Roberts said the streamer was “on the right path to create long-term value” with advertising-supported and subscription models.

NBCU chief Jeff Shell added during the April 28 call, “The noise in the rest of the streaming business just validates where we’re going. We’ve said from the beginning when we launched Peacock that we’re taking a different approach from other people in the streaming business. We don’t view Peacock as a separate and distinct business. We think of it as an extension of our existing TV business. And we manage it that way, that’s how we set up our business. That’s how we program it, that’s how we sell advertising across both linear and Peacock. I think that that strategy is working.”

The NBCUniversal parent company made about $10 per Peacock user when including advertising. Peacock President Kelly Campbell previously told Vulture that 75 percent of Peacock’s viewership comes from paid and bundled consumers at the time, with another 7 million monthly users from Xfinity bundles reported in 2021’s Q4.

Within its first 18 months Peacock launched 70 original series and grew its catalog by more than 500 percent, Campbell said.

Now, it seems that Peacock’s content push has payed off. Comparatively, Q1 saw a massive Netflix dip in viewership, losing 200,000 global paid subscribers and the current quarter expected to see an additional loss of an estimated 2 million paid subscribers. Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney+ landed relatively flat usage numbers based on a survey of 22,839 respondents analyzed by MoffettNathanson.

Peacock aims to tack on “50 to 60” more original series this year, and the library will become even more vast since NBCU decided to remove its next-day programming from Hulu in favor of its own streaming service.

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