NBCUniversal (NBCU) CEO Jeff Shell recently announced that Peacock picked up an additional two million paid subscribers during the third quarter in an interview on CNBC. The gains put the fledgling streamer at 15 million paid subscribers after just over two years.
Any subscriber gains in the current saturated streaming video on demand (SVOD) market are an accomplishment. A MoffettNathanson report named Peacock – as well as Paramount Global’s Paramount+ – as the only streaming services that showed significant growth over the same period last year. Peacock’s growth has been built primarily around three pillars: sports, movies, and original content.
NBCU has been investing heavily in sports entertainment. Peacock recently reached multiyear agreements to stream English Premier League soccer, Gallagher Premiership rugby, IndyCar racing (including the Indianapolis 500), and Motorcross events, to go along with their coverage of the Olympics, golf, and WWE wrestling.
Movies are another cornerstone of Peacock’s offerings. NBCU brings most of it theatrical releases from Universal and its subsidiaries – including DreamWorks Animation, Illumination, and Focus Features – to Peacock within a 45-day window after theatrical release. This helps buttress the streaming service with regular additions of top new releases such as Jurassic Park: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru. In some cases, such as with the upcoming Halloween Ends—the latest, and reportedly last, film in the Michael Myers horror saga—the film goes to Peacock on the same day as the theatrical release. Peacock has also made the move to bolster its theatrical offerings in a deal with Lionsgate Films that will bring the studio’s theatrical releases to Peacock starting in 2024.
Finally, NBCU also leverages its original content to drive engagement on Peacock. The company has removed next-day streaming of its NBC and Bravo shows from Hulu and made them exclusive to Peacock while also shifting the long-running daytime soap Days of Our Lives to broadcast exclusively on Peacock. NBCU has devoted considerable resources to developing original content exclusively for Peacock, including reboots Bel-Air and Saved by the Bell, and is planning three original movies for the streamer in 2023.
Peacock’s subscriber growth strategy has benefited from heavily discounted pricing specials and partnerships, such as an October promotion with the dating app Tinder, and deals with over-the-air cable providers including Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, and Charter Spectrum.
Interpret’s VideoWatch data shows steady increases in the Peacock Premium subscriber base, with a 133% increase year-over-year (Note: respondents were not limited to head of household). It saw sharp growth during the winter, largely due to the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl. However, there are concerns about audience engagement. None of the Peacock Originals to date have been the type of buzz-generating megahits that other streamers have seen with their biggest titles, such as Stranger Things on Netflix, House of the Dragon on HBO Max, or The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime. Yellowstone has been one of cable TV’s top performers, and while it’s not a Peacock Original, the Paramount-led production has been streaming exclusively on Peacock, not Paramount+.
With Peacock’s subscriber base still far smaller than its competitors, in order for it to take the next step to becoming a major player in the streaming world, it’ll have to land blockbuster content that viewers can’t ignore – easier said than done in an ultra-competitive streaming environment.