Peacock Reveals His Strategy for Winning Subscribers: Spend, Spend, Spend


Comcast executives announced today that by the end of 2021, Peacock had reached 24.5 million monthly active accounts in the US, of which more than 9 million are paid members. To grow that number further, Peacock plans to: double its content budget to about $3 billion by 2022 alone.

This week’s numbers have been surprisingly transparent to a streamer who has recently kept its subscriber data close to its chest – in the past, the company has refused to specify the number of paid subscribers. Peacock’s monthly active accounts have risen from the 20 million active accounts the company last reported in July 2021. During the earnings call for Peacock mother Comcast on Thursday, Comcast chief Brian Roberts said the company also expects the 7 million to be “highly engaged.” Peacock members who receive Premium at no additional cost through Comcast’s own Xfinity service and other distributors will transition to paid subscribers over time.

Peacock is still small compared to giants in space like Disney Plus and Netflix, which have hundreds of millions of subscribers worldwide. But Peacock’s notable shift in content spending certainly aligns it with high-end streamers who are similarly dumping billions in original programming to boost their subscribers.

“The reality is we’re seeing a massive global shift among consumers away from traditional TV bundles to streaming,” said LightShed partner and analyst Rich Greenfield. The edge. “Every media company looks at this and realizes that this is the future. This is how consumers want to look at content.”

Currently, Peacock offers three tiers: a free and ad-supported plan with more limited content selections, a $5 ad-supported premium plan that unlocks all of Peacock’s content, and a $10 premium plus plan that removes ads from most programs. Roberts said that based on the company’s own internal research, 80 percent of customers prefer an ad-supported service over a more expensive ad-free option.

“We see this in our customer mix, with the vast majority of our paid subscribers choosing the $5 paid AVOD tier over the $10 no-ads tier,” Roberts said, adding that “our paid subscribers have a much lower churn and a have significantly higher engagement.”

With that in mind, Roberts said the company plans to reallocate resources and increase investment to ramp up its paid subscriptions, which give users access to exclusive programs. Peacock plans to spend more than $3 billion on domestic content this year — double its budget from the previous year — and that company plans to increase that figure to $5 billion in the coming years.

“Comcast’s news today was less about its 9 million paying subscribers and a lot more about pushing their spending to $5 billion in the coming years,” Greenfield said. “Everyone recognizes that growing streaming requires significant investment. You need a lot of content, not just here, but all over the world.”

Greenfield adds that this is exactly what we’re likely to see more of as Comcast shifts its resources to its streaming business. Content is king. Peacock knows he has to cough up the programming or step aside while everyone else is breaking out their checkbooks.

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