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Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Peacock, Comcast Using Sports To Turn Corner In Streaming Battle

  • Streaming service posts subscriber gains, narrowed losses
  • Amazon's "Thursday Night Football" driving new broadband usage trends
Comcast

Peacock and parent company Comcast are beginning to turn a critical corner in the quickly escalating streaming battle — with sports standing as a key factor.

NBC’s streaming service posted a 64% increase in revenue to $830 million for its third quarter, added 4 million subscribers to hit a new total of 28 million, and narrowed the adjusted quarterly loss to $565 million. That adjusted loss is down from a comparable loss of $651 million in the second quarter and $614 million in last year’s third quarter.

The improved results, which follow a sluggish set of quarterly financials in July, give Peacock and Comcast additional confidence in the competition among major streaming services — particularly as other Comcast businesses such as broadband and cable show their own signs of stress, prompting a sharp drop in the company’s stock.

Peacock boasts a strong sports lineup that includes the NFL, MLB, soccer’s Premier League, and Spanish-language rights to the World Cup and Women’s World Cup — not to mention the Olympics, Big Ten and Notre Dame football, NASCAR, and the PGA Tour. 

But in recent weeks, Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max has added a sports tier, Amazon is hitting new audience thresholds with “Thursday Night Football,” and Netflix is moving into live sports with even bigger aspirations.

“We see all sports finding a way over the next [few] years to be more and more streamed,” said Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts. “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. That’s our strategy, and sports really is at the heart and soul of a lot of what we do.”

Traffic Trends

The multifaceted nature of Comcast’s overall business also leaves it in position to benefit from its streaming service rivals.

Comcast president Mike Cavanagh said its peak broadband network traffic has shifted from Sunday nights to Thursday as a result of Amazon’s exclusive streaming of “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video, and NFL games now represent 25% of all its internet traffic on Thursday nights.

Broadband networks “will be put to the test as this transition of sports to streaming continues,” Cavanagh said.

The next test for Comcast will be in January, when Peacock exclusively streams an NFL wild card game.

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