Comcast Lost $914 Million On Its New Streaming Service Last Year

from the new-to-this-whole-competition-thing dept

Despite bottomless pockets and all but owning state and federal regulators for the last four years, telecom continues to stumble with adaptation in the streaming video era. Verizon’s attempt to pivot from curmudgeonly old phone company to sexy new media brand fell flat on its face. AT&T’s plan to spend $200 billion on the Time Warner and DirecTV mergers to dominate the television space has resulted in them losing 8 million pay TV subscribers in just the last four years. In short, pampered telecom monopolies aren’t finding that getting ahead in more competitive markets to be particularly easy.

Comcast too isn’t having a great time of it, despite dumping the company’s resources into its new Peacock streaming platform. A new filing this week indicates that Comcast lost $914 million on the venture just last year alone. Some of these losses were expected as Comcast shuffles resources around NBC Universal, pours money into new projects, and streamlines the company’s overall structure, but it’s worth noting that Comcast remains somewhat cagey about how many paying customers are actually signed up:

“Comcast said Peacock had 33 million signups in the U.S. at year-end but hasn?t provided metrics on how many of those are paying subscribers. The service, available in free and premium subscription tiers, launched for Comcast cable subscribers last April and went nationwide in July 2020.”

Comcast, like other giants, had hoped to elbow in on streaming and advertising by locking its NBC properties (like “Friends”) behind its gatekeeper paywall. Comcast also enjoys the fact that it effectively lobbied to lobotomize the FCC, leaving it free to do things like use unnecessary broadband caps as a competitive bludgeon against other streaming providers. But even that wasn’t enough to seriously threaten giants like Disney, which (thanks in large part to its Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel catalog) just crossed the 100 million paying subscriber mark.

While Comcast expects that Peacock might break even by 2025 or so, the relentless drumbeat of deep-pocketed competitors jumping into the space means that’s certainly no guarantee.

Don’t be too sad for Comcast, however. As always, the company’s steadily growing broadband monopoly means that as it loses TV revenue (from folks cutting the cord on expensive, traditional television), it can simply jack up prices on broadband to recoup the losses. Right now, that’s coming in the form of unnecessary, bullshit broadband usage caps, but when your subscribers literally can’t flee because there are no other real options to flee to, the sky’s the limit.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: comcast, nbc

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Comcast Lost $914 Million On Its New Streaming Service Last Year”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
17 Comments
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

HBO Max

If I can reluctantly give the proverbial devil his due, I really enjoy the experience I get out of AT&T’s HBO Max service. It has all the movies and TV shows I want to watch, and the fact that they put their new releases on their streaming service the same day they put their new releases in theaters (in a goddamn pandemic, no less!) may have pissed off the likes of Christopher Nolan, but it brought Roku back into the negotiating table and I as a Roku user benefit from having HBO Max as one of the services to which I subscribe. Since HBO Max has all the shows and movies I want to watch, it’s my most-watched Streaming service and well worth the money. I do watch Disney+, but it’s mainly to watch The Simpsons and The Muppet Show with my mom.

I personally think all these streaming options, while extremely imperfect, are better than cable seeing as we can pick and choose which streaming service we want and exclude ones we don’t instead of getting cable channels we don’t want bundled with channels we do want. Also, we could pick up where we last left off on our smartphones and temporarily download some movies and TV show episodes. Is there any wonder so many people are cutting the cord?

Anonymous Coward says:

The sky's the limit!

"Right now, that’s coming in the form of unnecessary, bullshit broadband usage caps, but when your subscribers literally can’t flee because there are no other real options to flee to, the sky’s the limit."

Indeed it is… SpaceX’s Starlink is coming right along at 60 satellites per launch (using their own launch-and-reuse rockets!), and now other companies are planning low-earth broadband satellite constellations. From Wikipedia:

"In addition to the OneWeb constellation, announced nearly concurrently with the SpaceX constellation, a 2015 proposal from Samsung outlined a 4,600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 km (870 mi) that could provide a zettabyte per month capacity worldwide, an equivalent of 200 gigabytes per month for 5 billion users of Internet data,[186][187] but by 2020, no more public information had been released about the Samsung constellation. Telesat announced a smaller 117 satellite constellation in 2015 with plans to deliver initial service in 2021.[188] Amazon announced a large broadband internet satellite constellation in April 2019, planning to launch 3,236 satellites in the next decade in what the company calls "Project Kuiper", a satellite constellation that will work in concert[189] with Amazon’s previously announced large network of twelve satellite ground station facilities (the "AWS ground station unit") announced in November 2018."

The cable companies treated their users like crap for years because they figured that even if we all went to streaming, they would still have the monopoly on broadband and could jack those rates up to compensate. Now streaming is ubiquitous and broadband competition is about to arrive in a form that doesn’t require the overhead of wiring whole cities and maintaining those networks.

Comcast’s days are getting short. I can’t wait until I can take their gear into the office, throw it at them, and tell them where and how to stuff it.

Tech says:

Comcast Tech insight

Been with them over 20yrs, only thing consistent is price hikes. If milk was not subsidized by our tax dollar you would see that increasing year after year. During this pandemic, civil unrest, going in and out of homes 10hrs a day we have been put in every possible dangerous situation. Many Techs have fled as the workload can’t be completed in time to have the 2 15min breaks along with 30min lunch. Start at 7:30am and finish at 8:00pm. Routing of jobs have been out of different states from people in the comfort of their home who have no idea of location or Zip codes. If you think things are bad now, just wait till your waiting a week for appointment. They have cut every dept to make up for the losses. I used to really like the job, fixing and helping people. But now days people of all walks are just shitty people. So, either pay or don’t pay….stop complaining about "Your choices" no one made you. I seek another job, fixes my choice.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...