Comcast is in “peak expense mode”
“It’s a costly pivot, and we’re right in the middle right now,” Jason Armstrong told an investors conference as the internet and cable giant manages its linear-to-online TV transition.
Even though Comcast is losing more cable TV subscribers, its streaming service Peacock is seeing customer growth.
According to Jason Armstrong, the newly appointed CFO at Comcast, Peacock, the streaming service for Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, is less of a burden on the company’s overall operations and more of an ad-supported streaming service that helps counteract ongoing declines in linear TV revenue.
“We are in charge of the entire business. He stated during a webcast of a session at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference on Monday that “[we] are] migrating to streaming. You have the linear business, which is a very good and cash-flowing business, that you want to protect.
Armstrong noted a “delicate balance” as the media behemoth shifts to streaming, as the entertainment industry concentrates on ongoing pressures on linear TV and streaming losses. That comes from Comcast’s protected linear TV business, which is still generating revenue from pricey cable bundles to an emerging Peacock platform in the midst of shifting viewer preferences.
His investor conference appearance coincided with growing Wall Street skepticism about entertainment conglomerates’ profit and content spend projections as they launch pricey direct-to-consumer streaming platforms. As NBCUniversal faces technology and marketing costs in launching Peacock, most recently with a focus on its paid advertising video-on-demand tier after ending free Peacock subscriptions, Armstrong said, “It’s a costly pivot, and we’re right in the middle right now.”
Armstrong reaffirmed that 2023 will be a peak investment year for the new platform with an anticipated $3 billion in losses. For Comcast, the challenge in making the pricey pivot to Peacock is listening to market concerns about the marginal return on that valuable investment capital. Armstrong continued, “The good news is linear plus streaming is a growth business. NBCUniversal is managing the pivot from one to the other holistically.”
To achieve this, he explained to the investor conference that TV content is essential, particularly the ability to continue to move content between linear and streaming platforms in order to increase Peacock’s audience engagement.
“That’s the balance we’ve got to get right. You want to make it more of a parity trade-off. You’ve got to replace some mechanisms. You’re adding a streaming service sub as you lose linear subs and you’ve got it covered domestically. Right now we’re in sort of a peak expense mode around funding this transition,” Armstrong told investors.