Sky customers to receive streamer Peacock from later this year

Parent company Comcast will extend the US brand to European subscribers

Actor Joshua Jackson attending the premiere of Peacock series Dr Death in Los Angeles earlier this month. The streamer is owned by Sky’s parent Comcast. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Actor Joshua Jackson attending the premiere of Peacock series Dr Death in Los Angeles earlier this month. The streamer is owned by Sky’s parent Comcast. Photograph: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

 

Sky customers in Europe will be able to access US streaming service Peacock for no additional cost from later this year, its parent company Comcast announced on Thursday.

The move comes amid imminent consolidation in the streaming business, with HBO Max’s owner WarnerMedia set to merge with Discovery Communications in a move that makes it even less likely that HBO will renew its long-standing content deal with Sky.

Peacock, the streaming unit of Sky’s sister company NBCUniversal, has amassed 54 million sign-ups since launching a year ago in the US. The arrangement with Sky will extend the brand to 20 million customers of Sky platforms – including users of “no strings” service Now – across Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

The version Sky’s European customers receive is unlikely to exactly replicate that available in the US owing to certain territorial rights deals – for instance, Peacock together with broadcast network NBC hold Olympic rights in the US that in Europe are controlled by Discovery.

Sky group chief executive Dana Strong said the deal would bring more than 7,000 hours of content to Sky customers.

The service, which will carry advertising, will feature NBCUniversal library content, such as the US version of The Office and the Meghan Markle series Suits, alongside original Peacock programming. Its drama commissions to date include an adaptation of Brave New World and crime mini-series Dr Death.

Original content

Sky, meanwhile, is set to double its investment in original content by 2024 through its production division Sky Studios. Earlier this week, the broadcaster – acquired by Comcast in 2018 – said it would replace Sky One in September with two new channels, Sky Showcase and Sky Max.

Comcast, the largest cable operator in the US, has been affected by the “cord-cutting” phenomenon in recent years, highlighting its need to succeed in the ultra-competitive streaming market through Peacock.

The company reported second-quarter earnings on Thursday showing a 20.4 per cent rise in revenue to $28.55 billion, beating analysts’ expectations as advertising sales rose and it added broadband customers.

Sky’s revenue increased 28 per cent to $5.2 billion, it said. On a constant currency basis, the year-on-year gain in revenue was 14.9 per cent, as the company recovered from the advertising plunge seen in the second quarter of 2020 and also benefited from an increase in the number of sporting events.