NBCUniversal’s top executive said the company had seen new subscription growth at its streaming Peacock hub even as he noted that the advertising market was “worsening” and prepared investors for a more challenging fourth quarter.

Speaking at an investor conference held by UBS, NBCU CEO Jeff Shell said Peacock now had more than 18 million subscribers, compared with a previously disclosed 15 million. He cited the recent decision to take some NBCU content rights away from Hulu, which the company jointly owns with Walt Disney, as a driver for the business.

But Shell noted looming headwinds. The threat of a recession in the U.S. has spurred new market caution, he said, and he indicated that advertising spend was “definitely getting worse,” though he noted NBCU ad sales were still expected to rise at a single-digit percentage rate.

The executive made a case for NBCU to be given more credit for its movie and theme-park businesses. “I honestly think that not only are we challenging Disney in animation, but I would take our animation business over theirs,” said Shell, citing NBCU’s Illumination and DreamWorks divisions.

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