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Comcast CEO: Hulu Agreement Complicates Peacock Strategy

Mike Nelson

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is incredibly bullish on Peacock and the streaming future for NBCUniversal films. Roberts shared his outlook on the company at today’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference.

Unlike some streamers like Disney+ or HBO Max that jealously guard their films, NBCUniversal has a unique schedule that allows for Peacock exclusivity with a middle window where the films are sold to other services. “I give the team at Universal tremendous credit for reinventing what is Pay-One,” Roberts said. “Instead of an 18-month window, we broke it into 3 chunks: 4, 10, and 4. Peacock took the front and back end. And Amazon and Netflix, depending (on) which type of film, took the middle. And the net result was we took in more third-party dollars and have the most attractive front-end window for ourselves if we want. And that is a reinvention of a 20-year-plus tradition.”

Roberts explained that some of Peacock’s ambitions have been thwarted by preexisting rights issues. “We inherited a company a decade ago that had committed really all of its content to Hulu. And all that content still resides on Hulu,” Roberts said. “So the biggest and best, most relevant part of our content, at least from television… are all licensed away, and that can change over time. And of course, we own one-third of (Hulu)… So we’re looking at each successive decision as to how to invest in Peacock versus what I just said previously, continue to invest in other people’s platforms.”

“We announced during earnings that we had 20 million people using Peacock each month and had 54 million sign up in just a year,” Roberts said. “It’s the #2 new brand that was created during COVID after Zoom. So I give the team a lot of kudos for getting us well-positioned.”

Roberts said the company has $20 billion invested between NBCUniversal and Sky in terms of content — divided between sports, television, entertainment, and film.

“We do it for our own platform but we also do it on other people’s platforms,” he said. “Our goal is to monetize the best content to remain … the premier general entertainment and sports content creator and then find the best path to monetization as this (streaming) world continues to evolve. Today we reach 700 million people globally with all of our media properties and brands. I think that’s scale.”

While not discussing mergers and acquisitions around the world, Roberts spoke favorably about the SkyShowtime joint venture with ViacomCBS in Europe, revealing that the company is looking at other potential options.

“We’re looking at other partnerships like that around the world,” he said, without going into details regarding specifics.

“There’s been so much focus on Peacock and there should be, but we also have Sky NOW, Sky Ticket, a lot of different NBCU apps, sports, NBC Sports, Today Show, entertainment apps. We have Xumo, FandangoNow, Vudu, many others, that if you put those together, we’re a house of brands,” he said. “The collective reach is over 100 million active users every month to our streaming services, which, in the last 12 months, generated over $2 billion of revenue. So we have a lot of streaming momentum, a lot of great assets, and we also like to work with third parties. So yes, I think we’re — NBCUniversal is extremely well-positioned.”

“The company is doing extremely well. Residential broadband, business services, mobile, studios, parks, Peacock, the UK, they all have a tailwind,” Roberts said. “We can stream better and aggregate better than anyone else … I feel great about where the company is at and in our future.”

Roberts’ comments came just as Comcast announced a new 4K streaming device — the XiOne — that it is launching in the U.S., and together with Sky in Europe. The XiOne is now available for Sky Q customers in Italy and Germany. The company says it is now ready to begin its rollout to Xfinity Flex customers in the U.S.


Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that includes original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series. Peacock is home to “Yellowstone,” and “The Office,” as well as original hits like “Poker Face” and “Bel-Air.” You can also watch live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and exclusive MLB games. Peacock is also the exclusive home to many WWE events like WrestleMania. Premium Plus subscribers can stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.

Peacock includes news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Peacock also includes the entire library of Bravo shows and has exclusives like “Below Deck: Down Under.” They also include live and on-demand access to Hallmark channels.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” and the entire Dick Wolf library including “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire.”

The service also features blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.


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