Peacock struggles to get off the ground amid weak demand for his TV originals
Peacock has a serial television problem and relies on a programming pipeline delayed by the pandemic to help overcome it.
More than a year after its launch, NBCUniversal’s streaming service is missing original animated TV shows from rivals or even âStar Trekâ offerings tailored to fans of Paramount Plus, the ViacomCBS service formerly known as CBS All. Access. And while top brass praised Peacock as “going in the right direction” during Comcast’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts last week, the lack of breakthrough successes seen as critical to streamers’ growth. , suggests that the service has a lot of work to do before it becomes truly competitive. with its rivals.
Craig Moffett, co-founder of Moffett-Nathanson, says the investment community has concluded “that Peacock is just not on track to be a major streaming service, and they’re going to have to do it. something dramatic if they’re going to change that narrative. He adds, “I don’t think Comcast has shown a willingness to invest in this business on a scale comparable to what Disney or Netflix are investing.”
In the long run, Moffett thinks NBCU will have to merge with another big company like Discovery did with WarnerMedia. For now, the two have joined forces to distribute streaming offerings in international markets.
âI think most observers have concluded that it’s going to take a merger at some point,â says Moffett.
In the near term, NBC will air the pilot of “Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol,” based on the author’s hit prequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” next week in an effort to increase viewership. âDr. Death,â a star-studded adaptation of the podcast of the same name, is Peacock’s most popular original series this year, according to TVision research, easily surpassing offerings such as âRutherford Falls,â âGirls5evaâ and âThe Lost Symbol âon the service.â Dr. Death “sparked a low buzz with its July bow, while” The Lost Symbol “has barely made waves since its debut on September 16.
âYou’d think it would attract more viewers,â says Colin Dixon, founder of nScreenMedia, of Dan Brown’s adaptation performance so far. Among the major streamers, “Peacock is the one having the most difficulty.”
According to Parrot Analytics, which estimates consumer demand based on data from multiple online sources, including Google searches, social media services, blogs, video platforms, and hacking services, Peacock did garnered only 1.6% of the share of original digital demand in the United States during the third quarter. , a slight improvement over the 1.4% it pulled in the previous quarter. Paramount Plus reached 3.9%, while HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus ranged from 6.1% to 8.9%; Netflix dominated with 43.7% of that metric.
“The problem with Peacock right now is that demand for his originals is effectively non-existent,” said Julia Alexander, senior strategic analyst at Parrot Analytics. âThis is not a comment on the quality,â she adds, it’s just that none of the offers fell into the exceptional category.
NBCUniversal made a calculated decision to target Peacock in the growing world of advertiser-funded free-to-air TV channels as a zig as rivals tightly focused on ad-free subscription platforms at Disney Plus and HBO Max. This means that NBCUniversal has less competition from its rivals for digital ad dollars. But to appear on the radar, Peacock still has to serve something that no one else has, observers say.
“Peacock needs the big show to get people in, or the exclusive ‘SNL’ series, or whatever it is to get people out the door, and then they can start to really see how their originals play out,” Alexander said. “Until there’s an audience, you’re just pushing things around and hoping people show up.”
Peacock is very optimistic about “Dr. Death’s”, although the company refuses to provide audience figures for it. Tellingly, during the earnings call, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts featured NBC’s âLa Breaâ as the top-performing new show on Peacock right now. However, due to Comcast’s pre-existing relationship with Hulu, episodes of âLa Breaâ are also available on this platform, reducing the need for viewers to stream them on Peacock. Comcast’s Hulu deal is effective January 2024, when NBC’s programming could potentially shine solo on Peacock.
Regardless of what happens with Hulu down the road, analysts point out that Peacock needs to bolster its distinctive offerings to thrive. âIt won’t work without this original programming,â says Jessica Reif Ehrlich, senior media and entertainment analyst for BofA Securities. “No service will work without this original programming.”
NBCU CEO Jeff Shell admitted last week that the company was behind on these productions due to COVID restrictions, but assured Wall Street they would increase soon, “which is very necessary to continue to grow. “. A series created by Rian Johnson starring Natasha Lyonne and titled “Poker Face” and Will Smith backed by “Bel-Air” are among the ongoing projects.
Shell declined to provide an update on Peacock’s subscriber count, saying only that the streamer has earned a few million more since the company announced in July that the service had collected 54 million subscriptions and had in average about 20 million monthly active users. The company has yet to break down the number of paid subscribers and declined to provide additional audience statistics for this story. (“They didn’t open the kimono,” one analyst grumbled Variety.) NBCUniversal’s emphasis on “listings” also drew some grumbling. NBCU defines it as consumers who signed up with an email address in exchange for access to the range of free entertainment, news and sports content supported by advertising.
Analysts give NBCU credit for being ahead of the ad-supported streaming curve with Peacock. Opinions are divided on his day-to-day cinematic strategy, although Peacock certainly contends that the strong COVID performance of “Halloween Kills” at the box office last month indicates that there has been no cannibalization of his fortunes. theatrical.
Peacock’s new president, Kelly Campbell, deceased of Hulu, could also galvanize the streamer, who is looking at live sports programming as a differentiator. Right now, what Peacock needs most is time. Building a streaming service in the event of a pandemic is not easy and requires a significant investment.
Comcast’s third-quarter media results include $ 230 million in revenue and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $ 520 million related to Peacock, more than double the loss for the prior year period. For the first nine months of the year, the division’s adjusted EBITA loss was $ 1.2 billion from Peacock, about triple the amount from the previous year.
“It was a bit wobbly at first,” says CFRA analyst Tuna Amobi of the Peacock launch, “but they’re still in their early stages.”