NBCUniversal Projects ‘Peak Spend’ on Peacock Hits $3 Billion This Year

Comcast execs had some big Peacock news to preen about Thursday, revealing the NBCUniversal-owned streamer had more than doubled its paid subscribers to 20 million by the end of 2022. Looking ahead, the company will have even more to celebrate, as it expects Peacock to hit peak losses in the current calendar year before shifting to “steadily improve” over time, with hopes it returns NBCU’s media segment to growth.

In 2022, NBCU revenue was up 2.6% to $6 billion, mainly driven by Peacock, which doubled revenue to $660 million, and Telemundo’s broadcast of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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“Peacock’s full-year EBIDA loss of $2.5 billion was in line with the outlook we provided a year ago, and for 2023, we expect Peacock losses to be up modestly to around $3 billion,” Comcast president Mike Cavanagh said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Thursday. “As we’ve said previously, we believe 2023 will be peak losses for Peacock and from there steadily improve.”

NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell reiterated Cavanagh’s words later in the call, telling one analyst: “We will hit our peak spend this year and then improve steadily from there.” Shell said that Peacock’s performance makes it “very clear that we picked the right business model,” and that the estimated upcoming $3 billion loss will be rewarded, as NBCU “wouldn’t be investing in Peacock if we didn’t think it was going to return the [media] segment to growth over time.”

Peacock’s strong performance last year was built off the streaming success of the World Cup, the move to next-day viewing of NBC and Bravo shows from Hulu to Peacock, the availability of Universal films, including “Halloween Ends” (which came day-and-date to Peacock) and “Nope” (arriving on streaming after a theatrical window) as well as overachieving library content, including Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone.”

Up next, Peacock is hoping Rian Johnson and Natasha Lyonne’s mystery series “Poker Face” (pictured above) lands them solid returns in the originals space, as well.

Speaking to the enormous growth Peacock saw in paid subs last year, adding 5 million customers in the fourth quarter alone, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts called the $5-per-month-with-ads platform the “best bargain” in the streaming wars, noting “consumers are finding that.”

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