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Peacock suffers another huge loss as subscribers stall, are more cancelations on the way?

TechRadar logo TechRadar 7/28/2022 Tom Goodwyn
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Peacock, the streaming service owned by Universal Pictures' parent company Comcast, has posted another huge set of losses as it announces its latest subscriber figures. 

According to Variety, the streaming service ended the second quarter of 2022 with a subscriber base of 13 million and losses of around $467 million, over $100 million up from the equivalent period in 2022. 

The figure of 13 million represents a flat quarter for the streaming service, which posted identical figures at the end of 2022's first quarter. That figure represented a growth of four million from the service's figure at the end of 2021, but things have flattened out in the following three months. 

In a statement issued about the flatline results, Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts blamed the slowdown on a strong set of options in the first part of 2022, with both Super Bowl LVI and the Beijing Winter Olympics available to stream on the service. 

Roberts, who was writing in the context of overall revenues of $30 billion for Comcast, told investors that the second half of 2022 promised big things for Peacock, with the arrival of Jurassic World: Dominion, Jordan Peele's new horror Nope and the Qatar World Cup all hooking in new subscribers. 

Roberts said: "At NBCUniversal, terrific results at theme parks fueled our growth in the quarter, and we expect our recent premieres and planned slate of content and live events from our media and studios businesses, including Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Nope, Sunday Night Football and the World Cup, to make significant contributions later this year, including to our subscriber growth at Peacock. 

"Looking ahead, our company is in an enviable strategic and financial position, with substantial cash flow generation and a strong foundation for innovation."

Are these losses new?

Peacock keeps losing money, in fact, it lost a lot more in 2021, a cool $1.7 billion. That was on top of a loss of $663 million in 2020. But, as its part of a media and theme part giant in Comcast, the streaming service's losses tend to be absorbed into that structure. 

Growing a streaming service is expensive, and, what will be more concerning to Comcast is the flatlining of subscribers rather than the losses. 

When you have as many revenues streams as Comcast, which has streams of income ranging from Universal Studios theme parks to ice hockey team the Philadelphia Flyers, all investors tend to care about is that subscriber numbers are going up, so that will be the bigger concern. 

Will these losses result in more cancelations?

In terms of cancelations, Peacock has not been nearly as prolific as Netflix or Warner Bros. Discovery, but it has axed a couple of notable shows. 

Executives canceled its planned TV adaptation of bestselling and award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Green Bone Saga, and its revival of Saved By The Bell bit the dust back at the start of May.

In fact, the streaming service has found it hard to get much off the ground. Heavily-backed dystopian drama Brave New World only lasted a season, as did The Lost Symbol, its TV spin-offs from Dan Brown's hugely successful book series.

In the coming months, the Universal-backed streamer is leaning heavily on young adult fantasy. It's about to release Vampire Academy, which brings to life Richelle Mead's novel of the same name, while the second season of drama One Of Us Is Lying is coming in October. 

But, after pulling the plug on The Green Bone Saga, you have to wonder if the streamer's planned reboot of Battlestar Galactica, big-budget adaptation of Victoria Aveyard's young adult series Red Queen, which is being overseen by Elizabeth Banks, and a take on Wild Cards, a series of science fiction superhero shared universe anthologies, which is overseen by George R. R. Martin, all might find themselves in trouble.

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