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Peacock Loss Grows to $1.7 Billion in 2021 as Comcast Q4 Tops Expectations

Revenue for the NBCU streaming service hit $778 million in 2021, notched 9 million paying subscribers

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NBCUniversal

UPDATED: NBCUniversal’s Peacock, entering its third year of operation, sank deeper into investment-mode red ink in 2021 — with adjusted losses at the streamer more than doubling year over year.

NBCU parent Comcast outlined plans to boost spending on Peacock content even more in 2022 and beyond.

Comcast, in reporting Q4 earnings Thursday, revealed that Peacock generated $778 million in revenue for the full-year 2021, with an adjusted loss of $1.7 billion. That’s compared with $118 million of revenue and an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) loss of $663 million in 2020.

For 2022, Comcast expects Peacock losses to total about $2.5 billion as its investment in content doubles, CFO Mike Cavanagh said on the earnings call.

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At the end of 2021, Peacock had 9 million paid subscribers, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told analysts on the call — the first time the company has disclosed paying customers for the streamer. That base is approaching average revenue per subscriber of $10/month, including ad revenue. “And that’s without much focus on paid subscriber growth,” he said. In addition, Peacock has another 7 million monthly “highly engaged bundle subscribers” via Comcast Xfinity and other distributors; those currently receive Peacock Premium at no extra cost.

The company spent about $1.5 billion on content for Peacock in 2021 — and expects that to double this year, to $3 billion, Cavanagh said. Comcast hopes to boost that to $5 billion annually over the next several years, he added.

Comcast said Peacock had 24.5 million monthly active accounts in the U.S. at the end of the year, but the company hasn’t consistently reported that metric. It most recently said Peacock had “more than 20 million” monthly active accounts as of the end of Q2 2021.

The cable and media conglomerate disclosed the Peacock financials in reporting Q4 2021 earnings that topped Wall Street expectations.

NBCU first launched Peacock, which is available in a range free and premium subscription tiers, for Comcast cable subscribers in April 2020 and went nationwide across the U.S. in July of that year. Peacock has had to fight its way into the crowded streaming field, which in addition to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video now includes HBO Max, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus and more.

Peacock offers a free, ad-supported version, along with Peacock Premium ($4.99/month, includes ads) and Premium Plus ($9.99/month, no ads). Customers of Comcast’s Xfinity and other partners are eligible to get the ad-supported Premium version for no additional cost.

Comcast execs previously told investors that it expected to invest about $2 billion in Peacock during 2020 and 2021. Over those two years, the adjusted net loss for Peacock was $2.36 billion. The company has projected Peacock will achieve the break-even point by 2025, but Cavanagh said that could be pushed out beyond the original expectation.