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NBC's Peacock added 10 million signups in just three months

“People are watching more frequently and for much longer than we projected,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said.
The NBC peacock outside NBC headquarters in New York City on Jan. 16, 2020.Nathan Congleton / Today file

Peacock, the latest major entrant to the streaming video universe, has added more than 10 million signups since its launch. Comcast, the owner of NBC News and Peacock's parent NBCUniversal, revealed Thursday as part of its second-quarter earnings.

“People are watching more frequently and for much longer than we projected,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said on a call with analysts.

The news underscores the high interest in at-home entertainment at a time when consumers are staying home and movie theaters in most regions are closed.

Comcast did not break out paid versus free signups over the period, but Disney said its streaming service Disney+ notched up 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours with help from Verizon, which boosted take up with a free offer for some phone subscribers. Warner Media’s HBO Max attracted just over 4 million subscribers in its first month, including some conversions from its regular HBO channel. Apple TV+ has not revealed signup information for its own streaming TV service.

The coronavirus pandemic is boosting growth in streaming. Earlier this month, Netflix said it had added 2.9 million U.S. subscribers in the April-through-June quarter, and 7.2 million overseas for a total of 190 million global subscribers.

However, streaming services, which come without contracts, appear to be weakening the traditional cable TV business. Comcast reported that it had lost some 477,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, while adding 323,000 high-speed internet customers.

Comcast, which provides homes and businesses with video and connectivity services, is aiming to boost its broadband business in multiple ways beyond the launch of Peacock. Movie studio Universal Pictures, a unit of NBCUniversal, struck a deal earlier this week with cinema chain AMC Entertainment to enable it to stream movies on demand much earlier after they debut in theaters than before. The new deal will give consumers access to what is called Premium Video on Demand after just 17 days in theaters. The shift is expected to boost broadband usage further.

The company also documented losses related to the effects of COVID-19 across the board. Theme park revenue was down 94.1 percent, while filmed entertainment fell 18.1 percent. Shell noted that Universal Orlando was one of the first theme parks to reopen, and said that across the board, advertising is starting to return more rapidly than expected.