NBCUniversal CEO Says Peacock Hit 18M Subscribers

NBCUniversal CEO Says Peacock Hit 18M Subscribers

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell says Peacock has hit 18 million subscribers.

“That’s real subscribers, paying us real American dollars,” he told the UBS TMT Conference during a session that was webcast on Monday.  A bullish Shell also pointed to Netflix and other rival streaming platforms getting into the advertising business as validation that NBCU placed a winning bet on an ad-supported streaming model.

“We were late coming into streaming, but we clearly chose the right business model,” he told investors. Asked about the path to profitability for Peacock, Shell said the strategy is the streaming platform helps offset accelerating declines in linear TV revenues, due to cord-cutting and a worsening advertising market.

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“We believe in the premium video ad-supported, dual revenue stream — essential broadcast and cable on streaming — driven by key programming,” Shell said of NBCU’s business strategy for its flagship. streaming platform. But as much as linear TV was in decline, Shell added: “The flip side is it’s still a giant business. It’s just balancing out the two businesses.”

The declines in cable subscribers is, however, putting pressure on affiliate fees and advertising rates, so it’s becoming more important than ever for Peacock revenues to offset falling cable TV revenues. Shell also talked about the TV advertising business, and didn’t hold back: “It’s definitely getting worse.”

He argued the deteriorating ad market was due more to uncertainty over the future of the domestic economy, which has marketers holding back spending. “Advertisers are like the rest of us, trying to figure out where the economy is going and are holding back,” he said.

At the same time, Shell wasn’t ringing any alarm bells, given advertisers are just being cautious. “The advertising market is bad, compared to the way it was a year ago or two years ago, which was historic highs, but it’s just not that bad,” he argued.

Shell also discussed the continuing march of Peacock into the world market, but with cautious steps. “We intend to be global with Peacock, we’re just doing it market by market,” he argued, as he looked to get the AVOD platform across Europe, but back across the Atlantic is focusing on the U.S. market as it slowly gets into Latin American market by market.

The NBCU head also discussed continuing industry consolidation. “We have scale to do anything we want to do. It’s definitely going to be interesting . There’s so much turmoil in our market among different competitors that you can imagine there’s going to be assets available at some point that must be attractive,” Shell argued.