Comcast reported multiple losses during its 2023 third quarter earnings call. With cord cutting continuing to advance, the telecom company is examining new ways to tap its streaming service, Peacock. Sports could be a key factor in giving the streamer a competitive edge.
Peacock’s sports lineup includes the NFL, MLB, soccer’s Premier League, the Olympics, Big Ten and Notre Dame football, NASCAR, the PGA Tour, and Spanish-language rights to the World Cup and Women’s World Cup. This is more live sports than any other streaming service, according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. In addition, Roberts said NBC Sports is the number one show in television and Sunday Night Football.
During the earnings call, Comcast said that 25% of all internet traffic on Comcast’s network coming from Amazon’s Thursday Night Football stream. NFL Thursday Night Football averages almost 13 million viewers.
“[W]e see all sports finding a way over the next [few] years to be more and more streamed,” Roberts said during the company’s third quarter earnings call. “And that’s going to require more bandwidth. And that’s going to require and create an opportunity for us to have the superior product in the market. So that’s our strategy, and so sports really is at the heart and soul of a lot of what we do.”
Compared to other streamers, Peacock is struggling. The service added over four million subscribers in the third quarter, bringing its overall user count to about 28 million. For context, Hulu boasts 44 million subscribers and Netflix reports more than 247 million subscribers globally.
Sports leagues, TV providers, fans, advertisers and streaming services have found themselves in a potential symbiotic relationship: Leagues, sponsors and advertisers reach a large audience. The fans enjoy the convenience, content options, and quality of streams of games. Both streaming and cable providers can draw in viewers and work towards profitability.
Peacock isn’t the only streamer leaning into live sports to draw in viewers.
Warner Bros. Discovery launched its Bleacher Report sports tier last month which gives subscribers access to over 300 live U.S. and global sports events year-round, including the MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA Men’s March Madness, U.S. Soccer events. The tier also includes live video content, replays, Inside the NBA, and pre- and post-game shows.
YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket also out-performed expectations when it delivered the first Sunday game of the 2023-2024 NFL season with little to no issues. The Google-owned video-sharing app plans to continue polishing the service but hasn’t ruled out a bid on NBA rights.
Netflix is taking a slightly different approach to live sports. The streamer will premiere The Netflix Cup, sports event that pair off athletes from Formula 1: Drive to Survive and Full Swing in a match play tournament. The fact that Netflix created the event in-house lets the company skip shelling out cash for sports media rights.