Comcast’s forthcoming entry into the intensifying streaming competition, Peacock, will be profitable within five years and have $2 billion in content and marketing investment in its first two years.
The outlook on the streaming service’s launch next April was provided by Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh in an appearance at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York.
He confirmed that the ad-supported platform will be free for Comcast customers, with “various pricing tiers” for other subscribers. While he didn’t offer any guidance on pricing, he said revenue from advertising will enable Comcast to “make the price to consumers sensible.”
Peacock is joining a crowded marketplace. Disney and Apple just launched new subscription outlets, at far lower price points than Netflix, the market leader whose most popular level of service costs $13 a month. HBO Max will debut next May at $15 a month.
Cavanagh noted that a full tour through the investment strategy and consumer pitch of Peacock has been scheduled for January 16. But speaking from the C-suite of the parent company, he noted that the $2 billion infusion is just 1% of annual earnings, comparable to the level of Xfinity Mobile, a previous new venture by Comcast.
The Peacock effort will entail a “lower cumulative loss or investment than what you otherwise might see in other places, but obviously that’s with the opportunity to rely on advertising, ramp through distribution partnerships,” Cavanagh said.
The $2 billion, he noted, is heavily weighted toward content spending. NBCU earlier this year announced The Office, a popular title on Netflix, will be coming to Peacock in a $500 million deal.
Netflix has been pouring money into programming and marketing, with annual content spending now approaching $15 billion. Traditional media companies have been promoting cumulative figures approaching Netflix levels for their overall programming spending. The major caveats that apply with those figures, though, include the fact that many of those titles air on linear channels or get licensed to third parties. The figures also include live sports, a business segment Netflix has expressed no interest in entering.
Peacock, Cavanagh said, would not be a risky venture. “We’re not looking to play somebody else’s hand. I think our approach to Peacock is a thoughtful consideration of our strengths and opportunities to put together a plan that, in success, will put us in a really good place. Success is ours if we get it right and it’s worth pursuing.”
He added, “Consumer demand will be there. Clearly, advertisers will be looking for opportunities to reach audiences.”
EXCLUSIVE: Grace Gummer Mr. Robot and Molly Griggs Prodigal Son have joined the cast of Dr. Death, a limited series for NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform starring Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater. The UCP-produced drama is based on Wondery's hit podcast of the same name.
Dr. Death explores the twisted mind of a sociopath and the failures of the system designed to protect the most defenseless among us. It tells the terrifying true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch Dornan, a rising star in the Dallas medical community. Young, charismatic and ostensibly brilliant, Dr. Duntsch was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson Baldwin and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby Slater, set out to stop him.
Gummer will play Kim Morgan, a highly capable, hard-charging registered nurse who is drawn into Duntsch's Dornan web - both professionally and personally - by his apparent talent and ambition. Griggs is set as Wendy Young, Duntsch’s girlfriend, the mother of his children and the last remaining moral beacon for the man who would become “Dr. Death.”
Production begins in the spring on Dr. Death, which is written and executive produced by Patrick Macmanus under his overall deal with UCP. Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch also executive produce via Escape Artists, as well as Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy of Wondery.
Gummer co-starred as Dominique DiPeierro on the last three seasons of USA Network’s Mr. Robot, and her TV credits also include The Hot Zone, Good Girls Revolt and Extant. She currently is onscreen in Standing Up, Falling Down, opposite Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz. She is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content
Griggs’ series credits include Prodigal Son, Servant and Succession, and she next appears in the indie feature God the Worm opposite Annabella Sciorra. She is repped by Paradigm and Perennial Entertainment.
Comcast has also committed $500 million to support employees impacted by the pandemic.
NBCUniversal and other parts of the Comcast family on Wednesday internally unveiled measures to support employees and others impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Top executives, including Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, CFO Mike Cavanagh, Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch, are donating their salaries to charities engaged in coronavirus relief until the virus crisis passes.
Roberts, in a memo obtained by THR, also said that Comcast was committing $500 million to help staff with pay and benefits if their business units have been shut down due to the pandemic.
"Across our businesses, we have committed $500 million to support our employees through continued pay and benefits where operations have been paused or impacted, and we have committed significant resources to support our customers," Roberts wrote. "Additionally, effective today, and for the duration of this situation, our senior leaders, Mike Cavanagh, Dave Watson, Jeff Shell, Jeremy Darroch and I have chosen to donate 100 percent of our salaries to charities that support COVID-19 relief efforts," Roberts wrote.
Roberts' 2018 salary came to $3.2 million, while CFO Cavanagh's salary was $1.95 million that year and then-NBCUniversal CEO Stephen Burke took home a salary of $2.96 million in 2018. Comcast has yet to announce its executive compensation for 2019.
Roberts, his wife Aileen and their family previously said they were donating $5 million for the Philadelphia public school system to buy laptops for students doing online learning as local schools closed down during the coronavirus crisis.
Comcast is the latest media and entertainment company to unveil that top executives were forging their salaries amid the virus crisis, following the likes of the Walt Disney Co.
Read Comcast chairman and CEO Roberts' full memo to Comcast staff below:
As our world changes by the minute with the new reality that COVID-19 brings, I continue to be amazed and inspired by our people and the human spirit at Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky. This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for our society. None of us has ever experienced anything like this before, and while it is easy to get mired in the many challenges we are all facing, I think that in uncertain times like these it is incumbent upon us to remain optimistic and look for the good, even if it can be elusive.
One of the bright spots for me has been watching our employees on the frontlines go above and beyond. Our Comcast and Sky engineers, technicians and call center representatives are working around the clock to keep our network running and make sure our customers maintain their vital internet connectivity. Our NBC and Sky news organizations are keeping our world informed — setting up remote...