The Tokyo Olympics haven’t concluded yet, but NBCUniversal may already be declaring Peacock a winner.
U.S. mobile downloads of the Peacock app rocketed up 96% in July versus June, for a total of 4.19 million, according to data provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by app analytics firm Apptopia.
That was a significant month-over-month increase that other leading SVODs like Netflix and Disney+ didn’t come close to matching.
The Olympics, which run from July 23 to August 8, weren’t the only notable thing to hit Peacock last month. But it’s likely the event was responsible for much of the boosted mobile Peacock engagement in July.
It’s an encouraging sign for NBCUniversal, which is in need of good news at the Olympics, which has suffered significant ratings declines compared to years prior and widespread criticism of its coverage.
Peacock in particular has been singled out for not streaming the Games’ opening ceremony live or offering 4K coverage. Many have also found it frustrating that there is not just one NBCU-owned platform offering all Olympics content.
But the mobile download surge is a welcome indication that NBCU’s strategy to leverage the Olympics for Peacock’s benefit is paying off, giving a leg up to a streaming service that has fallen far behind some of its rivals in that all-important category.
That said, mobile only represents a slice of consumers’ SVOD viewing, and it’s possible that much of Peacock’s viewers come from places like connected TVs.
It’s also worth noting that downloading the Peacock app is not the same thing as becoming a paying subscriber of the platform; some Peacock content is available free on an ad-supported basis. But new ad-supported Peacock users are still important for NBCU's ad revenue goals.
Shortly after Comcast reported Peacock had 42 million sign-ups in April, the WSJ reported Peacock had fewer than 10 million paid subscribers in May. Comcast most recently reported Peacock hitting in 54 million sign-ups and 20 million monthly active users in Q2, though it has yet to report the number of paid Peacock users.
Last month, downloads of the Peacock app were highest during the week of July 26, which was the first full week of Olympic competition.
Moreover, downloads of Peacock were highest last month on July 27. Many Americans likely downloaded Peacock that day to watch the women’s gymnastics team final, as the U.S. women’s gymnastics team had won gold in London and Rio.
Gymnastics was the most anticipated Summer Olympics sport among U.S. adults, a July survey by Morning Consult found.
News of U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles withdrawing from the competition that day could have also driven some consumers to download Peacock to catch coverage of the Games.
The other significant bump last month in Peacock downloads occurred during the week of July 5, with downloads during that week peaking on July 7. Some of those downloads may have been attributable to consumers trying to watch the “Boss Baby” sequel after it debuted on July 2 (as the first day-and-date release Peacock participated in).
But downloads during that week could have also been due to content centered around the WWE, which has given exclusive streaming rights of WWE Network to Peacock, hitting the service. “WWE Icons: Revisited” and “WWE Icons: Lex Luger” hit Peacock on July 4, for example.
However, Peacock’s mobile app was still used daily more during the week of July 26 than during the week of July 5, Apptopia estimates.
And that helps explain why during the week of July 26, Peacock charted as high in the App Store’s overall U.S. ranking as no. 8. During the week of July 5, Peacock peaked in that category at no. 18.
The big questions that remain now are how Peacock’s mobile downloads will fare during the last week of Olympic competition and what levels of churn Peacock might experience once the Summer Games conclude.
Peacock offered free live streams of key sports including live gymnastics and track & field (the full list of Peacock’s Olympics live streams is here). The service is also offering free access to other Olympics content like Peacock Original Olympic documentaries, original shows covering important Tokyo Olympics moments, and event highlights.
Replays of live events require a Peacock Premium subscription ($4.99/month). A Peacock Premium subscription is also required to watch any of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball games.
But some consumers are probably fine with watching select highlights for free rather than paying to watch full live replays. And the fact that the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball team on July 25 experienced its first loss since 2004 could have minimized some consumers’ interest in paying to view Olympic basketball games.