NBCU's Shell: Peacock Grows Subscribers To 15M, No Decision On Cutting Programming Hour

After a bit of a stagnant period, paid subscribers for NBCUniversal’s streamer have grown in the third quarter to 15 million with monthly active users now at 30 million, according to Jeff Shell, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal.

In early July, Peacock’s numbers were at 13 million paid subscribers and 27 million monthly active users.

Speaking on CNBC on Tuesday, Shell added: “And if you look at since the beginning of the year, it's 70% more than we started the year with.”

Shell credits high-profile content, including sports. “We have the best sports offering of any streaming service. [For] our major sports deals on linear we also have nonlinear rights and we have long-term deals.. [the] NFL English Premier League, WWE.”

But he also says major exclusive theatrical releases that moved quickly to Peacock drove business.

“We had “Jurassic World,” we had “Minions” and we had “Black Phone” -- three really good theatrical movies that all drove Peacock subscribers. All those stay on the platform in the fourth quarter and then we have “Nope,” the Jordan Peele movie that had a great summer.”



When asked about the dire future of linear TV that some analysts have forecast -- something NBCUniversal still counts on as a major revenue driver -- Shell says the jury is still out: “Whenever there's a shift in businesses, people tend to get to the end of the movie without following the movie through,” he said.

Shell adds: “So there's no question that linear is starting to decline as people shift.... But linear is still an incredibly important business, incredibly important business to consumers, incredibly important business to advertisers.” Just look at the NFL or the Olympics, he says.

With regard to reports of a possible pullback on linear TV -- that NBCU is considering abandoning the 10 p.m. hour of programming -- Shell says: “We make a lot of money at 10 o'clock. We still have a lot of viewers at 10 o'clock. There's no question throughout the day as linear declines, you're going to have to make some tradeoffs."

"I don't think we're ready to make any decision at 10 o'clock or anything else,” Shell adds.

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