There are certain headlines you typically want to avoid when you’re trying to get a relatively new streaming service off the ground—a period where nothing is quite so important as convincing users, daunted at the thought of signing up for another goddamn login, that you’ve got the vital content that they just can’t live without. You want to seem vibrant. You want to seem explosive. You do not want to have a headline that says, “Whoops, Peacock added no new paid subscribers over the last quarter.”
Anyway: Peacock added no new paid subscribers over the last quarter. Whoops!
And while that news is, clearly, bad, it’s also not necessarily the worst information that came out today about the NBC-adjacent streamer: The service also apparently lost a million monthly active accounts overall, suggesting that even some of the people who are ponying up for Peacock aren’t bothering to actually use it.
This is per Indiewire, reporting on an earnings statement from Peacock parent company Comcast today, which tried to put a mildly sunny shine on the whole thing by asserting that “Going from zero to 13 million paid subs in a couple of years at Peacock is a great achievement.” Which is a completely true statement, that nevertheless takes on a bit of the cadence of “The first 95 percent of the Titanic’s maiden voyage was a very smooth trip.”
Peacock’s not quite ready to sink beneath the waves, though. It has, admittedly, been a pretty rough time for streaming overall at the moment, what with people mostly crawling out of their quarantine bunkers (despite the pandemic still being, y’know, not over). Netflix has also been reporting drops and losses in recent quarters—although, as Indiewire notes, it’s losing a couple million of its 70-some million subscribers, rather than getting stuck down at around 13 million. Peacock is also beholden to outside events in a way that some of its competitors aren’t: The service drew a lot of viewers for its part in NBC’s Olympics coverage last quarter, as well as the Super Bowl. Q2 had way fewer of those big events to drive subscriptions, although Comcast is projecting optimism that the arrival of Jurassic World, Rise Of Gru, and other blockbusters onto the service might help goose things in Q3.
None of which is to wish Peacock any kind of ill; like every streamer, it has some dumb stuff, and some genuinely great programs: We’d hate to see Rutherford Falls or Girls5Eva vanish just because of marketing woes or other mismanagement.