The US streaming platform Peacock loses nearly $2bn in a year, as Universal battles to keep pace in the streaming wars.

We don’t get to see the numbers connected to streaming platforms that often, or at least, the numbers that count. Platforms like Netflix and Disney are happy to trumpet their growing subscriber numbers, but when it comes to viewing figures or operational losses the figures are often estimated. Netflix in particular chooses not to reveal data often, although its last quarterly earnings call did post a modest profit (and the suggestion that subscriber numbers are flattening out).

The streamers that are looking to catch up on Netflix’s huge market share of subscribers meanwhile find themselves having to spend billions on commissioning films and series, with profits being a distant goal as they strive to carve themselves a share of the market.

That’s the state that Peacock finds itself in, having posted its 2021 balance sheet, which shows operating losses of $1.7bn – losses that are expected to double in 2022. The streaming platform, owned by Comcast – the parent company to Universal – certainly has a broad base of attractive intellectual property to compete with the likes of Disney and Netflix, but won’t even see a profit until 2025 at least.

The streaming platform, which came to the UK this past summer by way of Sky and NowTV, currently boasts around 1om subscribers, a fraction of Netflix’s 200m plus. And with Netflix itself finding its subscriber base slowing as it hits a saturation point, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next few years. As the market also hits a level of saturation, will there be room for emerging streamers like Peacock to find the growth they need to ensure profitability? The 45-day release window that the streaming platform has in place with Universal means that films like the upcoming Black Phone will be on the service fairly quickly after a cinematic debut, but whether that will tempt viewers to sign up in greater numbers this year, remains to be seen.

We have, in the light of these numbers, postponed our plans for a Film Stories streaming service. Best to play safe.


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