Streaming service Peacock posted a massive loss in 2023, but executives at parent Comcast have some reason to be optimistic.
The service added 3 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, but posted a loss of $825 million. For the year, Peacock lost $2.75 billion.
While that seems like a lot — and it is — that number was just a hair narrower than the $2.8 billion Comcast had previously projected. The company said that it expects 2023 to represent a “peak” year in losses, with things expected to improve in 2024. Comcast President Mike Cavanagh put on a bullish face in talking about the results.
“We couldn’t be prouder with what we accomplished with Peacock in 2023,” Cavanagh said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, citing that the total subscriber base of 31 million subscribers is up 50% over 2022. “It’s not the scale we plan to get to, but the team has done a fantastic job.”
In terms of how Comcast plans turn Peacock profitable, Cavanagh said the company is focused on driving additional subscriber growth and engagement. The company earlier this month exclusively broadcast the NFL’s AFC Wild Card game exclusively on Peacock, which it touted as the most live-streamed event in U.S. history, having reached 23 million viewers.
Cavanagh said it added subscribers from the game, but didn’t disclose how many, and said the priority was making sure they stick around with other content. He touted Ted, a prequel TV show based on the hit movies starring a foul-mouthed teddy bear voiced by Seth Macfarlane, as one example of that content, noting that it was the most watched original series on the service through the first seven days.
Ultimately, Cavanagh said the company wasn’t managing Peacock in isolation, but in coordination with its linear TV business, with a goal of using its various assets to drive more scale to both sides.
“I’m less focused on standalone Peacock losses vs. doing what’s right for the totality of the media business,” he said.