Comcast Lost $914 Million On Its New Streaming Service Last Year

from the new-to-this-whole-competition-thing dept

Despite bottomless pockets and all but owning state and federal regulators for the last four years, telecom continues to stumble with adaptation in the streaming video era. Verizon's attempt to pivot from curmudgeonly old phone company to sexy new media brand fell flat on its face. AT&T's plan to spend $200 billion on the Time Warner and DirecTV mergers to dominate the television space has resulted in them losing 8 million pay TV subscribers in just the last four years. In short, pampered telecom monopolies aren't finding that getting ahead in more competitive markets to be particularly easy.

Comcast too isn't having a great time of it, despite dumping the company's resources into its new Peacock streaming platform. A new filing this week indicates that Comcast lost $914 million on the venture just last year alone. Some of these losses were expected as Comcast shuffles resources around NBC Universal, pours money into new projects, and streamlines the company's overall structure, but it's worth noting that Comcast remains somewhat cagey about how many paying customers are actually signed up:

"Comcast said Peacock had 33 million signups in the U.S. at year-end but hasn’t provided metrics on how many of those are paying subscribers. The service, available in free and premium subscription tiers, launched for Comcast cable subscribers last April and went nationwide in July 2020."

Comcast, like other giants, had hoped to elbow in on streaming and advertising by locking its NBC properties (like "Friends") behind its gatekeeper paywall. Comcast also enjoys the fact that it effectively lobbied to lobotomize the FCC, leaving it free to do things like use unnecessary broadband caps as a competitive bludgeon against other streaming providers. But even that wasn't enough to seriously threaten giants like Disney, which (thanks in large part to its Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel catalog) just crossed the 100 million paying subscriber mark.

While Comcast expects that Peacock might break even by 2025 or so, the relentless drumbeat of deep-pocketed competitors jumping into the space means that's certainly no guarantee.

Don't be too sad for Comcast, however. As always, the company's steadily growing broadband monopoly means that as it loses TV revenue (from folks cutting the cord on expensive, traditional television), it can simply jack up prices on broadband to recoup the losses. Right now, that's coming in the form of unnecessary, bullshit broadband usage caps, but when your subscribers literally can't flee because there are no other real options to flee to, the sky's the limit.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: broadband, competition, peacock, streaming
Companies: comcast, nbc


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Thread


  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 15 Mar 2021 @ 1:22pm

    HBO Max

    If I can reluctantly give the proverbial devil his due, I really enjoy the experience I get out of AT&T's HBO Max service. It has all the movies and TV shows I want to watch, and the fact that they put their new releases on their streaming service the same day they put their new releases in theaters (in a goddamn pandemic, no less!) may have pissed off the likes of Christopher Nolan, but it brought Roku back into the negotiating table and I as a Roku user benefit from having HBO Max as one of the services to which I subscribe. Since HBO Max has all the shows and movies I want to watch, it's my most-watched Streaming service and well worth the money. I do watch Disney+, but it's mainly to watch The Simpsons and The Muppet Show with my mom.

    I personally think all these streaming options, while extremely imperfect, are better than cable seeing as we can pick and choose which streaming service we want and exclude ones we don't instead of getting cable channels we don't want bundled with channels we do want. Also, we could pick up where we last left off on our smartphones and temporarily download some movies and TV show episodes. Is there any wonder so many people are cutting the cord?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nerdrage (profile), 15 Mar 2021 @ 2:04pm

    definitely beats cable

    Sure the streaming options are better than cable but I just wonder how many of them will be viable businesses vs being acquired by more successful streamers. HBO Max will probably make it. I don't think Peacock will. Maybe it will limp along with older or cheap programming. Reality TV & the like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 15 Mar 2021 @ 2:46pm

    Friends and Netflix?

    Does that loss include the loss of revenue from not continuing to license Friends to Neflix?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 15 Mar 2021 @ 3:43pm

    NBC killed the NBC Gold streaming app and moved Premier League matches to Peacock. So I'm one of those paying customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2021 @ 4:21pm

    At least streaming apps give you the choice to watch TV dramas comedys without paying for espn or sports channels you will never watch.
    It's terms of ease of use , ui interface the apple TV app is the worst with no proper search option.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Mar 2021 @ 6:04pm

    I imagine their end goal is to have enough subscribers (either free or paid) so that when they all eventually consolidate again under a streaming equivalent to Movies Anywhere, they can get a large enough cut of the streaming revenue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 15 Mar 2021 @ 9:49pm

    I wonder just how many people living in Comcast-exclusive territory simply go without Internet access because they outright refuse to do business with Comcast…

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Shel10 (profile), 16 Mar 2021 @ 12:46am

    Comcast lost $914 million

    Comcast offers Peacock for free, but then charges extra to view many of the available content. Don't they realize that when customers are paying $200/month for services and content that paying to watch old TV shows is not good.

    Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu make money by charging a flat monthly fee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2021 @ 7:01am

    The sky's the limit!

    "Right now, that's coming in the form of unnecessary, bullshit broadband usage caps, but when your subscribers literally can't flee because there are no other real options to flee to, the sky's the limit."

    Indeed it is... SpaceX's Starlink is coming right along at 60 satellites per launch (using their own launch-and-reuse rockets!), and now other companies are planning low-earth broadband satellite constellations. From Wikipedia:

    "In addition to the OneWeb constellation, announced nearly concurrently with the SpaceX constellation, a 2015 proposal from Samsung outlined a 4,600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 km (870 mi) that could provide a zettabyte per month capacity worldwide, an equivalent of 200 gigabytes per month for 5 billion users of Internet data,[186][187] but by 2020, no more public information had been released about the Samsung constellation. Telesat announced a smaller 117 satellite constellation in 2015 with plans to deliver initial service in 2021.[188] Amazon announced a large broadband internet satellite constellation in April 2019, planning to launch 3,236 satellites in the next decade in what the company calls "Project Kuiper", a satellite constellation that will work in concert[189] with Amazon's previously announced large network of twelve satellite ground station facilities (the "AWS ground station unit") announced in November 2018."

    The cable companies treated their users like crap for years because they figured that even if we all went to streaming, they would still have the monopoly on broadband and could jack those rates up to compensate. Now streaming is ubiquitous and broadband competition is about to arrive in a form that doesn't require the overhead of wiring whole cities and maintaining those networks.

    Comcast's days are getting short. I can't wait until I can take their gear into the office, throw it at them, and tell them where and how to stuff it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    CyberKender, 16 Mar 2021 @ 11:46am

    Comcast isn't worried about it.

    They just raised their tv/Internet service prices to cover it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
.

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.