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Peacock, the streaming service owned by Universal Pictures’ parent company Comcast, has posted another huge set of losses as it announces its latest subscriber figures. According to Variety, the streaming service ended the second quarter of 2022 with a subscriber base of 13 million and losses of around $467 million, over $100 million up from the equivalent period in 2022.
The streaming service showed equal numbers at the end of the first quarter of 2022, so the figure of 13 million implies a flat quarter for that platform. That number represents an increase of four million from the service’s end-of-2021 total, but things have leveled down over the last three months.
Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts blamed the slowdown on a strong lineup of alternatives in the first half of 2022, with both Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Winter Olympics available to stream on the service, in a statement released on the flatline results.
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The second half of 2022 held great promise for Peacock, according to Roberts, who was speaking in the context of Comcast’s $30 billion in total revenues when he told investors that Jurassic World: Dominion, Jordan Peele’s latest horror film Nope, and the Qatar World Cup would all draw in new subscribers.
Roberts stated: “At NBCUniversal, fantastic theme park results fueled our growth in the quarter, and we expect our recent premieres and planned slate of content and live events from our media and studios businesses, including Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Nope, Sunday Night Football, and the World Cup, to make significant contributions later this year, including to our subscriber growth at Peacock.
“Looking ahead, our company is in an enviable strategic and financial position, with substantial cash flow generation and a strong foundation for innovation.”
Are these losses new?
Peacock continues to lose money; in fact, it lost a whopping $1.7 billion in 2021. Additionally, there was a $663 million deficit in 2020. However, because Comcast is a media and theme park giant, its losses tend to be absorbed into that system.
Although expanding a streaming service is costly, Comcast will be more concerned about the flattening of subscriber numbers than with any losses.
Investors tend to only be concerned about subscriber growth when a company has as many revenue streams as Comcast, which includes income streams from entities like Universal Studios amusement parks and ice hockey franchise the Philadelphia Flyers.
Will these losses result in more cancelations?
In terms of cancelations, Peacock has not been nearly as prolific as Netflix or Warner Bros. Discovery, but it has axed a couple of notable shows.
Executives canceled its planned TV adaptation of bestselling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Green Bone Saga, and its revival of Saved By The Bell bit the dust back at the start of May.
In actuality, the streaming service has had a difficult time gaining much traction. The Lost Symbol, the television adaptation of the enormously popular book series by Dan Brown, and the heavily financed dystopian thriller Brave New World both ended after one season.
The Universal-supported streamer will focus a lot on young adult fantasy in the coming months. The adaptation of Richelle Mead’s book of the same name, Vampire Academy, is going to be released, while the second season of the drama One Of Us Is Lying will start airing in October.
But after canceling The Green Bone Saga, you have to wonder if the streaming service’s upcoming projects, including a big-budget adaptation of Victoria Aveyard’s young adult series Red Queen directed by Elizabeth Banks and a take on George R. R. Martin’s shared universe science fiction superhero anthologies Wild Cards, could all run into trouble.