Here’s how long Peacock needs its 2.8 million new NFL-fan subscribers to stick around

Peacock paid $110 million to air an NFL playoff game, which led to almost 3 million people to subscribe

The NFL says it was ‘thrilled’ with its Peacock-exclusive NFL game.

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The recent NFL playoff game that was only shown on Peacock for most of the country had many football fans up in arms over the league’s perceived greed. But the move may work out well for Peacock.

During the weekend of that Chiefs-Dolphins game, Peacock saw a 2.8 million jump in new subscribers, according to subscription market intelligence company Antenna. It was the biggest new subscriber event for any streaming service over the past three years, according to Antenna, outperforming Super Bowls and FIFA World Cups that were simulcast on various streaming platforms.

“The acquisition of 2.8 million subscribers is indeed a remarkable feat for Peacock, especially considering the platform’s position in the competitive streaming market,” Kevin Hanley, EVP of Marketing Services Practice for Hero Digital, a customer experience agency, told MarketWatch.

Nearly 3 million new subscribers is a lot, but considering Peacock-parent NBCUniversal paid $110 million to air the playoff game (plus one regular season game), it’s too soon to tell if the cost was worth it.

“To make a profit off of the $110 million Peacock spent, those 2.8 million subscribers would need to stick around for at least four months,” Chantel Buchi, TV and streaming expert at, told MarketWatch.

At a minimum, the reported 2.8 million new subscribers will lead to about $17 million in revenue for the initial month because the cheapest plan costs $5.99 a month.

But the overall revenue added from the exclusive game is likely much higher because it doesn’t take into consideration the advertising revenue that Peacock made during the game.

Moreover, users could have opted to buy the ad-free Peacock plan, which costs $11.99 a month, or one of its annual subscription plans. Peacock does not currently offer a free trial.

Streaming platforms like Peacock, Netflix NFLX, +0.60% and Max WBD, +4.39% are trying lots of things to boost subscribers, but something just as important as gaining new subscribers is maintaining the ones they already have, also known as churn.

Will Peacock’s new subscribers stick around to watch other content like “Ted,” “The Office,” and “Yellowstone”?

“At least 25% won’t renew over the next few months,” Bob Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Partnership Alliances and adjunct professor at the Kogod School of Business, told MarketWatch. “Maybe that’s okay as they can use live sports opportunities as a marketing billboard for the brand as well as mining their data research.”

“The key to mitigating this churn lies in Peacock’s ability to engage these new subscribers with compelling content and a superior customer experience immediately following the NFL game,” Hanley said. “If there isn’t the next content draw to retain the service, the consumer will leave.”

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Right after the Chiefs-Dolphins game, Peacock announced that it was the most-streamed U.S. event ever with an average audience of 23 million people, when taking into account local TV viewership in Miami and Kansas City.

Peacock is one of several streaming platforms that now broadcast NFL games. Other services, like Amazon’s Prime Video AMZN, +2.63%, also have exclusive rights to certain games, meaning there is no other option to watch it. But while there have been NFL games broadcast only on a streaming platform before, never before had it been a playoff game.

All these games being broadcast on alternatives to network TV has made watching games on TV more expensive for fans. In fact, the price to watch every NFL game this season for cord cutters was about $1,600, which doesn’t include the cost of internet service. That commitment includes the cost of six streaming services and five username and password combinations from platforms including Google’s GOOG, +0.64% YouTube TV, NFL Sunday Ticket, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, NFL+ and ESPN+ DIS, +1.05%.

And things will likely only get more costly for fans.

“We were thrilled,” Hans Schroeder, COO of NFL Media, told the Hollywood Reporter after the Peacock game. When asked about possible streaming-only games in future seasons, he said “You’ll see even more opportunities come to the forefront.”

Comcast CMCSA, +0.41%, the telecommunications brand that owns the Peacock-owned NBCUniversal, announced on Thursday night the streaming platform had a total of 3 million net new subscribers over the course of its fourth-quarter. Comcast said Peacock’s quarterly revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time, but added the service had a $2.75 billion loss for 2023.

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