Thursday, March 4, 2021

Comcast Bets On Theme Parks, Streaming

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Wednesday the company is betting big on theme parks and streaming as the media giant looks ahead to 2022. 

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports Roberts anticipates a resurgence for parks and the continued growth of streaming entertainment to help Comcast's hard-hit NBCUniversal division rebound in the next year, the CEO said during a conference hosted by Morgan Stanley. NBCUniversal has been battered in the last year as theme parks, movie studios and theaters shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Comcast wants to be seen as a streaming company, Roberts said, and the sharp rise in streaming is on the “hockey stick side” of value creation. Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, had more than 33 million signups in 2020 following its launch in April, 50% more than the company initially expected, Roberts said. 

Brian Roberts
A report from Morning Consult found that Peacock was one of the fastest-growing brands of 2020, second only to Zoom. Comcast is now looking at ways to take advantage of that growth and whether it should invest more in Peacock, he said. 

The outlook for Peacock hinges on the content the platform will have, Roberts said, whether it’s licensed content, original content like NBC shows or upcoming events like the Olympics. Comcast’s strategy is to make Peacock a “must-have” streaming service, he said.

Streaming could help produce a big cash bump for Comcast, as the company is set to exit its one-third position in streaming giant Hulu in 2024, Roberts said. Comcast will be able to move the content it has on Hulu to other streaming services, like Peacock, he said. 

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo — still on track to happen this year after being postponed in 2020 — and 2022’s Winter Games in Beijing will be major events for Comcast. The Olympics bookend Super Bowl LVI, which will also be broadcast on NBC. The Olympics could begin to satisfy the world’s “pent-up demand” for celebration after a year of Covid-19, Roberts said.

On the theme parks side, Roberts announced Wednesday that NBCUniversal will resume construction on the Epic Universe park in Orlando. The company halted construction last year because of the pandemic and said it would not resume until the economic future was more certain. Epic Universe was originally slated to open in 2023, and Roberts did not provide additional details on the park’s timeline.

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