Well, well, well, how the turntables. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service that seemed like it was struggling to make an impact compared to fellow new competitors like Disney+ and HBO Max, has hit 42 million subscribers total in the U.S. And a lot of the new Peacock sign-ups can be credited to the addition of The Office and WWE.
Peacock added nine million U.S. sign-ups in the first three months of 2021, following the arrival of The Office and WWE to its streaming service. Comcast announced that Peacock sign-ups have hit an impressive 42 million total, putting the NBCUniversal streaming service in strong competition with HBO’s 44.2 million U.S. customers, though there’s naturally a big caveat: Peacock has a free tier, and Comcast wouldn’t report how many customers are actually paying.
But provisions aside, this is still a significant boost for Peacock. Compared to its streaming competitors, its growth has held steady — perhaps owing to the relative newness of the service, and of course, the ad-supported free tier. Still, it’s impressive when HBO only added 2.7 million subscribers in the U.S. in the first quarter, and streaming giant Netflix added four million globally.
But of course the biggest likely reason — and the titles to which Comcast pays lip service — is the addition of The Office and WWE. NBCUniversal forked over a lot of money to gain the rights to the The Office, which became a Peacock exclusive on January 1 after leaving Netflix, where it had become one of its most popular titles. Peacock wisely (and hilariously) shaped its subscription tiers around The Office, offering more availability of the beloved NBC sitcom to higher-paying subscribers. Peacock’s numbers were further boosted by another big franchise: the WWE Network, which launched on Peacock on March 18.
However, Peacock might have trouble keeping up this momentum as it moves forward. The Office and WWE are already the two biggest names that the streaming service has the rights to, and its Peacock Originals have failed to attract as much buzz as original titles from platforms like HBO Max and Apple TV+. The Verge points out that there might be cause for concern for Peacock’s growth — this quarter saw the addition of nine million sign-ups thanks to the arrival of two big names, sure, but that doesn’t even compare to the 11 millions sign-ups it added last quarter, and the 10 million sign-up before the service fully launched. Those quarters didn’t contain as big names as The Office and WWE, so Peacock might see some trouble ahead.
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