CEO Jeff Shell: Peacock Paid Subs Barely Scratch the Comcast Surface

NBCUniversal’s hybrid subscription streaming, ad-supported platform Peacock added 4 million paying subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31), to bring its total paying base to 13 million. The service ended the period with 28 million active accounts.

Among major branded SVOD platforms, Peacock’s paid user base is relatively small — a reality not lost upon CEO Jeff Shell.

Speaking on the virtual Credit Suisse 24th Annual Communications Conference, Shell said Peacock’s paid sub base only accounts for consumers not within the Comcast ecosystem.

“So, the 13 million paid subs doesn’t represent a fair kind of representation when we have millions of people in Comcast homes getting [Peacock] for free using the content, which we like, by the way,” Shell said.

Comcast ended the most-recent fiscal period with more than 34 million customer relationships, in addition to 32 million broadband subs. All of them currently get free access to Peacock.

“So, thrilled with our trajectory on paid, but obviously, a long way to go,” Shell said.

Meanwhile, Peacock launched with an ad-supported option. A strategy Shell says actually generates more revenue per subscriber than the service does on subscription fees.

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“Couldn’t be more pleased with that,” he said. “As I said, in two short years, we’ve ramped that up to a level, that next to Hulu, is probably second to anybody in the industry. We are getting CPMs [cost-per-mile] at the broadcast level, which we [didn’t] expect to.”

Shell said the ad revenue from stream “validates” the hybrid SVOD/AVOD business model Comcast chose — a dual revenue stream he says matches the core business. Shell finds it amusing that ad-free SVOD services are now embracing advertising.

“Everybody else who we were chasing before is now jumping into the pool behind us saying, ‘Oh, yes, we like this model, too.’ So it’s great and it feels good to be where we are,” Shell said.

CEO: All Five 2022 Paramount Theatrical Releases Topped Weekend Box Office, Heading to Paramount+

Paramount Pictures is on a roll. The studio has dominated the 2022 theatrical season, with all five of its big screen releases topping the weekend box office in their debuts.

Led by Top Gun: Maverick, which opened with $126.7 million in revenue across North America, Paramount saw Scream, Jackass Forever, The Lost City and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 all finish No. 1 at theaters. The last four titles all began streaming on Paramount+ 45 days after their theatrical debut — a strategy Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish says helps lure moviegoers to the cineplex while also driving SVOD subscriptions.

“Franchise, franchise, we really love them” Bakish said June 14 at the virtual Credit Suisse 24th Annual Communications Conference. “Our position as a diversified business fundamentally improves the economics of streaming.”

Bakish said the growth in box office and streaming has been accomplished by a strong content portfolio, with spending across the company reaching $15 billion. He said some content investments is performing “double duty” across multiple platforms.

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Paramount Pictures created the Netflix original movie Senior Year, which topped the streamer’s weekly English-language chart in its debut. The Lost City is currently the top-streaming movie on Paramount+, while the crime TV series “NCIS” and “FBI,” among others, are also popular on the SVOD platform, according to Bakish.

“That drives advanced return-on-investment (ROI) for us,” said the executive. “We see tremendous benefits from that. We’re excited about our streaming business and as an extraordinary valuation creation opportunity for Paramount.”

Upcoming movie releases include Jerry & Marge Go Large and Secret Headquarters on Paramount+ on June 17 and Aug. 5, respectively. Babylon hits the big screen on Dec. 25.