Peacock reaches 30M subs, Comcast collects Disney’s $8B+ Hulu payment

Comcast President Mike Cavanagh on Monday disclosed new subscriber figures for NBCUniversal’s Peacock, saying the streaming service surpassed 30 million paying users.

Speaking at the UBS Global TMT  investor conference, Cavanagh noted the uptick in paying Peacock subscribers, which marks a 2 million increase from the 28 million tally Comcast announced in October in conjunction with Q3 earnings.

Cavanagh said average revenue per user (ARPU) for Peacock users is now around $10.

He also provided an update on the sale of Comcast’s remaining 33% stake in Hulu to Disney. Comcast collected an approximately $8.5 billion check from Disney on Friday, according to Cavanagh, who said “the check cleared. It’s in the accounts.”

He was also sure to remind investors that the payment “represents the beginning of the process to value” Hulu, as the around $8.61 billion payment was a minimum amount from an earlier 2019 agreement tied to the sale and based on a $27.5 billion guaranteed floor value. There is still a valuation process of the Hulu asset underway, one where Cavanagh noted, “we expect and certainly hope to get more than that once the process ends.” For more on the valuation process read here.

Focused on domestic

During the event, Cavanagh also took time to emphasize that Comcast’s media unit focus is on domestic efforts in terms of leveraging its legacy networks business and Peacock for the future.

The Comcast president said primarily, it wants is to “figure out domestic” and ensure the company continues to have “the reach and relevance between linear and digital as we look several years down the road.”

He said that in total across its platforms and TV networks, NBCUniversal continues to run around 100 million hours of usage a month on various platforms, noting it still has very significant distribution in the linear world. Still, while he acknowledged “nothing is going to change the gravity” that the linear side of the business is experiencing (Comcast in Q3 lost 490,000 traditional video subscribers, while traditional linear networks also continue to see a challenged ad market) Cavanagh also said that platforms for the future need to include digital elements to align with changing consumer consumption habits.

“The infrastructure that we have as we bring it to life in the form of Peacock is a great way to think about the game we’re trying to play,” Cavanagh commented.

As for Comcast not having a global streaming service of its own and monetizing content outside of the U.S., he said the company will figure out “how to make sure out international joint ventures and partnerships and the like solve for the problem" – while noting it can change over time.

Comcast expects this to be the peak year for losses at Peacock at $2.8 billion, and Cavanagh pointed out momentum has materialized in roughly three years.

NBCU’s also been working to take advantage of interactive and shoppable capabilities on the Peacock streaming service with tie-ins to its network TV series – as could be seen with a recent shoppable content program with Walmart for select episodes of Bravo’s Below Deck.