Comcast grows video revenues despite losing 1.5M pay TV subscribers in 2021

Comcast’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings report shows a cable communications business with stable video revenues despite accelerated cord cutting.

The company reported $5.4 billion in video revenue during the fourth quarter, down just 1.2% year over year, and more than $22 billion for the year, up slightly. Combined with continued growth in broadband, wireless and business services, the video business helped lift Comcast Cable revenue to $16.4 billion and adjusted EBITDA to $7.125 billion during the quarter.

At the same time, Comcast lost another 349,000 residential video subscribers (up from 227,000 in the year-ago quarter) and nearly 1.5 million residential video subscribers during 2021. That figure jumps to 1.67 million when factoring in business services video subscriber losses.

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Over at the NBCUniversal segment, Comcast is becoming more transparent with user growth metrics for Peacock, its ad-supported streaming service. After only discussing only sign-ups for the first year and half of Peacock, the company this quarter said the service has reached 24.5 million monthly active accounts (MAA) in the U.S.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts today said the new Peacock figures put the company at about 75% of the user growth guidance set for 2024. He said that there are more than 9 million paid subscribers—most of whom take the $5/month ad-supported tier—included in the MAA total at nearly $10 in average monthly revenue per user including advertising. Roberts also claimed another 7 million “highly engaged” Peacock Premium subscribers who get the service for free through Comcast Xfinity and other distributors.

“We expect strong conversion of this group to paid subscribers over time,” he said, adding that Peacock’s growth is happening despite much of NBCUniversal’s content still premiering on other streaming services like HBO and Hulu. Comcast currently spends around $20 billion per year on programming across NBCU and Sky but said the company will commit to spending more on top of that to “drive further growth in paid subscribers, which we believe is the right path toward creating long-term value.”

Peacock began expanding outside the U.S. in 2021, beginning with the U.K. and Ireland. Earlier this week, the service announced Germany and Austria as its next markets.

Still, despite the apparent momentum for Peacock, it’s still seeing higher losses. The service contributed an adjusted EBITDA loss of $559 million during the quarter even as it grew to $335 million in revenue. For the full year, Peacock brought in $778 million of revenue with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $1.7 billion.