NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which fully rolled out last July, had drawn 33 million signups by the end of 2020, parent Comcast reported during Thursday’s Q4 earnings call.
That was up from 26 million only a month ago, in early December.
NBCU had projected that Peacock would reach between 30 million and 34 million active users by 2024, the year it targeted for break-even for the service.
Although NBCU refers to it as an AVOD, Peacock is a hybrid, with a free tier, a $4.99 tier with more programming and limited advertising, and a $9.99 tier with the full range of content and no ads. At launch, NBCU estimated that the service would generate average revenue per user (ARPU) per month of $6 to $7— less than its return from cable TV.
Peacock’s fast ramp-up has occurred despite NBCU’s having to abandon production of most of the service’s initial original programming, and losing the Tokyo Summer Olympics, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That made Peacock a notable bright spot at NBCU, which saw Q4 revenue declines of 12% in broadcast, 6.4% in cable, 8.3% in filmed entertainment and 62.9% in theme parks, for an overall revenue loss of 18% — a continuation of year-long declines driven by pandemic-depressed advertising and theater closures.
NBCU CEO Jeff Shell said that the recently restructured company now considers subscriptions and advertising to be one business — operated, programmed and sold to advertisers as a single platform. In fact, Comcast confirmed that, as of Q2 2021, it will begin reporting Peacock along with its broadcast and cable TV businesses.
Peacock, which has a content catalog of about 20,000 hours and includes programming from Comcast-owned networks and studios, is benefitting from a broadcast-like dynamic that lends itself to cross-promotion — leading users who view “The Office,” for example, to discover other popular comedy series.
Peacock’s just-announced acquisition of exclusive U.S. streaming rights for WWE will help stoke that dynamic, Shell said.