Bel-Air (Courtesy of Tyler Golden/Peacock)
That total is up from the 24.5 million monthly active accounts and nine million paid subscribers Comcast reported for the end of 2021 figures for the streamer, which has both free, ad-supported and paid, ad-free tiers. While revealing this data on the company’s call to discuss its first-quarter financial performance, Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts warned the company does not anticipate this dramatic level of growth quarter-to-quarter for Peacock becoming the norm, as the four million paid subscriber additions are largely attributed to Peacock streaming both Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Winter Olympics during the quarter.
Also in Q1, Peacock debuted splashy titles like “Bel-Air,” its dramatic take on the ’90s classic “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Jennifer Lopez’s theatrical-and-streaming release “Marry Me” and “Tiger King” scripted series “Joe vs. Carole.” Roberts said the company looks forward to Peacock having more significant sports programming in Q4 and eagerly anticipates the streamer taking over the rights to NBC’s next-day streaming from Hulu in September.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during the Q1 call Thursday, “We don’t view Peacock as a separate and distinct business” apart from the rest of Comcast’s entertainment arm.
When asked about Peacock’s performance and hybrid strategy in the wake of Netflix’s shocking sub loss and exploration of launching an ad-supported option, Shell said, “As things change in the streaming market we will continue to evaluate,” but NBCU is pleased with Peacock’s current business model.
In announcing its Q1 earnings results Thursday, Comcast said its overall revenue increased 14% to slightly more than $31 billion, compared with $27.2 billion in the year-earlier period, with a whopping 46.6% increase in revenue at its NBCU operations, due in part to $1.5 billion in cash generated by the Super Bowl and Olympics.
Overall, Comcast reported net income of $3.55 billion in the first quarter, or 78 cents a share, compared with $3.32 billion, or 71 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for one-time items, earnings came to 86 cents per share.
Comcast hasn't revealed an overall sign-ups tally for Peacock since last July, saying the NBCUniversal-owned platform had reached 54 million total sign-ups since its debut in April 2020 and generated more than 20 million monthly active users during the second quarter of 2021. When delivering both its Q3 and Q4 financial results for last year, Comcast declined to offer a total number of signups.
Last quarter marked the first disclosure of Peacock’s paying customer base since the platform launched, with NBCU revealing Peacock ended 2021 with 9 million paid subscribers. During the Q4 Comcast earnings call on Jan. 27, Roberts said that, at that time, the vast majority of Peacock’s paid users were choosing the platform’s $5 ad-supported tier over the $10 ad-free tier. The Comcast chief said the company “is on the right path to create long-term value” with Peacock’s hybrid advertising-supported and subscription model.
Also during that Q4 discussion, Roberts and Shell revealed resources would start to be reallocated from NBCU’s linear TV platforms to help fund a planned $3 billion content spend for Peacock this year, and are optimistic that annual content budget will rise to $5 billion “over the next couple of years.”
Variety's Jennifer Maas contributed to this post.