NBCUniversal reports higher Peacock losses as it shows CEO the door

Peacock losses continue to widen this quarter, NBCUniversal parent company Comcast reported Thursday, just days after the company announced that Jeff Shell’s time as NBCU CEO was up. Peacock had $704 million in losses in Q1 2023, a significant jump from $456 million in the same year-ago period.

In the fourth quarter of 2022, Peacock reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $978 million. The company previously warned shareholders that it expects losses to peak at around $3 billion this year.

However, Peacock also experienced subscriber growth, adding two million paying subscribers to bring the total to 22 million, up from 20 million in the previous quarter -- a significant increase compared to the prior year when it had 13 million paying subs.

Peacock saw revenue jump 45% to $685 million.

Comcast announced Monday that Shell is leaving the company, effective immediately, following an investigation into a complaint of an inappropriate relationship within the company. In the interim, Comcast President Mike Cavanagh will take on Shell’s duties.

“Today is my last day as CEO of NBCUniversal. I had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, which I deeply regret. I’m truly sorry I let my Comcast and NBCUniversal colleagues down, they are the most talented people in the business and the opportunity to work with them the last 19 years has been a privilege,” Shell said in a statement.

CEO of Comcast Brian L. Roberts addressed the departure during Thursday's earnings call.

“Let me just acknowledge the news that you all saw earlier this week. Obviously, a tough moment. But we are so fortunate to have a fabulous and tenured leadership team at NBCUniversal," Roberts said. "We're also lucky to have Mike Cavanagh step in at the helm at NBCUniversal while also remaining president.”

The subscriber gain is a small win for the streamer as its larger rival Disney+ dipped in subscribers for the first time, losing 2.4 million global subscribers to bring the total to 161.8 million.

Netflix missed analysts’ expectations in its first-quarter earnings, only reporting an addition of 1.75 million subscribers versus the estimated 2.3 million.

“We delivered strong first quarter results as our team executed exceptionally well," Roberts wrote in today’s letter to shareholders. "We grew Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EPS and generated a significant amount of free cash flow. We accomplished all of this while continuing to invest in future growth initiatives. Also, importantly, we had solid revenue growth in our high-margin connectivity businesses while increasing our Peacock subscribers more than 60% year-over-year.”