Survey: Winter Olympics Won’t Boost Peacock

Survey: Winter Olympics Won’t Boost Peacock
Variety Intelligence Platform

NBCUniversal is betting big that the Winter Olympics will provide a meaningful boost to its nearly two-year-old video streamer Peacock. After all, the NBCU-owned SVOD will stream every minute of every live event on its Premium tier — which starts at $4.99 a month but is given out for free in certain cable subscription packages.  

This amount of Olympics coverage on the U.S.-only Peacock is a big upgrade from last summer, when the streamer did not carry many live events and replays were delayed. 

But recent survey data suggests that the Winter Olympics — which runs between Feb. 2 and 20 — may not end up being as big a boost to Peacock as NBCU is hoping it will be.  

Whip Media conducted a survey of U.S. TV Time app users age 13+ exclusively for VIP+ between Jan. 21 and 23. Nearly 44% of respondents (or 535 TV Time app users) said they currently subscribe to Peacock.  

52% of survey respondents said they plan on watching the Beijing Winter Olympics on Peacock.  

TV Time is a mobile app that reports 2.8 million monthly users who track what they’ve watched and what they want to watch. The mobile app is owned by Whip Media, a provider of entertainment content analytics.  

The 52% figure above looks worse when considering that 79% of survey respondents said they use Peacock once a month or more frequently. The discrepancy in these two figures implies that some of Peacock’s more frequent users won’t be taking advantage of their access to Beijing Olympics broadcasts on the NBCU-owned streamer.  

Consumers not taking advantage of their access to Olympics broadcasts on Peacock is unfortunate for NBCU, which has signaled it’s in need of ways to increase engagement on its SVOD.  

After routinely disclosing the number of “sign-ups” Peacock amassed in previous quarters, Comcast failed to disclose the exact number of sign-ups Peacock had in its Q3 earnings report. The failure to provide concrete updated user metrics for Peacock in Q3 hardly signaled confidence in the streamer’s recent growth trajectory. 

Comcast most recently reported that as of 2021 end, Peacock had 9 million paid subscribers and 24.5 million monthly users, up from 20 million in July.  

Certain consumers not renewing their Peacock Premium subscriptions to view the Beijing Olympics doesn't help Peacock’s goal of breaking even by 2024. Because many current users likely either don’t pay for the Premium tier at all or get the Premium tier for free via a cable subscription, some cast doubt on Peacock’s ability to meet that goal. 

And of course there’s the issue of NBCU is trying to maximize the number of eyeballs that land on its Olympics broadcasts in general. The Tokyo Games drew the lowest audience for a Summer Olympics since 1988, when NBC started broadcasting the quadrennial event.  

But there’s only so much that NBCU can do to get consumers to maximize the number of consumers that watch the Olympics on Peacock. Certain consumers may not tune into the Beijing Games due to concerns of China’s human rights record.  

For others, it just comes down to a disinterest in winter sports. 

Nearly 76% of survey respondents who said they don’t plan on watching the Winter Olympics on Peacock cited no interest in the Winter Olympics as a reason for not intending to watch the Beijing Games on NBCU’s streamer. 

A caveat to the data above is that the figures likely reflect some consumers who said they were a “subscriber” to Peacock but don’t actually have access to Peacock’s Premium tier. Another caveat is that the majority of TV Time users — the survey sample — are under 55, a group of consumers who may be less generally interested in the Olympics than older consumers.  

Still, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Peacock is boosted by the Winter Olympics in some unprecedented way after seeing how downloads in Peacock’s mobile app only witnessed a short-lived bump in U.S. downloads during the duration of the Summer Olympics, which many Americans are likely generally more interested in than the Winter Olympics.  

During the last six months of 2021, U.S. downloads of Peacock peaked on October 18 at nearly 290,600, per Apptopia. That date was just three days following Universal’s debuting of “Halloween Kills” in theaters and on Peacock’s premium tier at the same time. 

"Halloween Kills” was the most notable piece of content debuting on Peacock around October 18, suggesting it was responsible for the download spike on that date. 

This hints at how more day-and-date premieres could be beneficial for Peacock’s growth, though Universal chair Donna Langley has suggested previously that an aggressive day-and-date strategy is not in the cards.