Comcast Q4: Peacock's Loss Widens Despite Advertising, Sub Gains

Peacock’s losses widened in Q4 2022 despite advertising, subscription and overall revenue gains during the period, parent company Comcast reported in its earnings call today.

Peacock helped drive a 4% gain in advertising for NBCUniversal’s media unit, to $2.86 million, and the streaming service more than doubled its overall revenue year-over-year, to $2.1 billion, according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Peacock also hit 20 million in paid subscribers by year’s end — more than double the number at the close of 2021, and up from more than 15 million at the end of 2022’s third quarter, representing the streamer’s strongest quarterly growth since its launch in 2020. Growth was driven by live sports, including coverage of the FIFA World Cup tournament (also on Telemundo), and Peacock’s recent original films and shows, Comcast said.

However, increased expenses resulted in an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) loss of $978 million for Peacock in the period — up 75% from Q4 2021’s $559 million loss.

NBCU’s media unit as a whole recorded $660 million in revenue, up from Q4 2021’s $335 million.

Despite a revenue gain of $5.9%, to $9.89 billion, NBCU overall saw EBITDA drop 36.3%, to $817 million, from $1.28 billion a year ago, again reflecting increased expenses — including a large severance hit of $541 million due to restructuring ultimately aimed at reducing overall costs.

Comcast’s adjusted profits of 82 cents per share were up 6.5% year-over-year, and 5 cents higher than analysts’ consensus forecast. Revenues rose 0.6% to $30.52 billion, beating estimates of $30.32 billion.

"Importantly, we achieved these results while continuing to invest in broadband, our 10G network evolution, Xfinity Mobile, Peacock, and theme parks, and we also took cost actions to further our growth in the future," Roberts stated in the results release.

Comcast’s cable business, its largest unit, saw revenue rise 1.4%, to $16.64 billion, and added 365,000 wireless lines.

But the company experienced an accelerated quarterly loss of 440,000 video subscribers in the quarter--up from 227,000 in the year-ago quarter and bringing the year's total pay-TV losses to 2.034 million, or 11.2% of its base. It also lost 26,000 broadband subscribers in the quarter, although it estimated it would have added 4,000 were it not for negative impacts from Hurricane Ian in Florida.

Revenue at Comcast’s Sky pay-TV unit declined to $4.4 billion from $5.1 billion a year ago.

Theme-park revenues rose 12%, to $2.11 billion.

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