Comcast’s Peacock Has Nearly 22 Million Sign-Ups; Q3 Sales, Profit Dip

Consumer demand for high-speed internet surged last quarter at NBCUniversal parent Comcast even as theme park revenue plunged 80% in a mixed earnings report that reflected the ongoing pandemic.

Peacock sign-ups hit 22 million, exceeding every internal engagement metric for the new streaming service — even without the Olympics or The Office the company said Thursday. AT last check, it had 15 million sign-ups.

It added a whopping 633,333 high-speed Internet customers.

Total revenue was $25.5 billion, down 4.8% but ahead of expectations. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $0.65 a share. Net income was $2 billion, or $$ 0.44.

The NBCUniversal parent was expected to earn 51 cents a share in the July to September quarter – down 35% from the year earlier on $24.7 billion in sales, down 7.8%.

CEO Brian Roberts and executives will provide commentary on the numbers at a conference call at 8:30 ET.

He’s sure to tout Peacock. At a media conference in mid-September, he said subscribers for the new streaming service had surged to 15 million, up 50% from 10 million in July. Roberts said then the app was the second most popular on its OTT product Xfinity Flex behind Netflix, and number three on Xfinity X1 behind Netflix and YouTube. Last month, Peacock also inked a deal with Roku.

A new Saved by the Bell premieres on Peacock on November 25. Yellowstone, the most-watched cable TV show of 2020, will have its third season available for streaming on Peacock starting November 22.

Deadline recently reported that Dick Wolf‘s groundbreaking 1990s cop drama New York Undercover is making a return on the NBCUniversal streaming platform. See Peacock pilots and series orders here.

The service launched in April for Comcast customers and went wide in July. At an investor day in January, NBCU and Comcast execs issued forecast 30 to 35 million active users and the service hitting breakeven by 2024.

He may also address the ongoing restructuring at Peacock NBCUniversal, which, like other media giants, has seen major executive changes and lots of streamlining. Earlier this month, Susan Rovner, former president of Warner Bros. Television, started as Chairman, Entertainment Content for NBCUniversal’s Television and Streaming division. Deadline reported yesterday that November 12 is penciled in as the target date for a second wave of staff reductions to begin. The cuts will likely come in waves, one in mid-November and one to follow in late December or early 2021, with as many as 150-300 employees affected.

Comcast’s overall story is one of broadband internet success versus weakness in its traditional media business from cable networks to TV and movie production to theme parks and advertising.

Americans stuck at home during the pandemic have been signing up for more Internet service and higher speeds at a steady clip, benefitting Comcast’s Xfinity unit.

No so for parks. Universal Orlando is open at reduced capacity but Universal Studios Hollywood is still shut and has been laying off staff. California Gov. Gavin Newsom made it clear this week that he has doubts about the safety of large theme parks and they won’t be opening any time soon.

Theatres in key movie markets New York City and Los Angeles also remain shut, promoting a vicious cycle of Hollywood studios postponing major new releases. Comcast’s NBC Universal has a revenue-sharing deal with giant cinema chain AMC Entertainment that allows the studio to shorten the traditional 90-day theatrical window and move a film directly to PVOD after 17 days, including upcoming Universal releases The Croods: A New Age, Freaky and News of the World. It was the first but but other studios and exhibitors are said to be talking about inking similar deals as the impact of COVID on movie theaters continue to linger.

The big question is — what now? A spike in the virus across the U.S. and Europe, that’s resulted in new lockdowns in Germany, Italy and France has investors jittery. The stock market has a been a disaster this week, hitting its lowest level since June yesterday.

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