Peacock's NFL Gamble Draws Massive Money, But Is It Just Because You Forgot to Cancel?

Despite initial online uproar, the deal paid off massively for Peacock.
Updated July 18, 2024
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NBCUniversal’s Peacock made a bold move by exclusively streaming the NFL's AFC Wild Card matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, and the gamble paid off handsomely. The game attracted a record-breaking 2.8 million new subscribers, making it the biggest subscriber acquisition event ever measured. 

However, the move caused an uproar online by angry fans who saw it as an opportunistic move by the streaming giant to monopolize an event that does not traditionally require a streaming service to watch.

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How it affects you

It seems like everyone is getting into the streaming game nowadays. While new streaming services like Apple TV+ and Peacock enter the market, Netflix remains the dominant player. Content splintering across platforms might lead to increased costs for viewers and the emergence of service packaging might be offered as a potential solution.

As more companies enter the streaming arena, critics say the moves will eventually put consumers back onto models that more closely resemble traditional cable channel packages.

The bet that paid off for NBC

Peacock's exclusive streaming of the AFC Wild Card game became a game-changer for NBCUniversal. Despite facing initial criticism, the move resulted in a significant boost, with the game becoming the largest live-streamed event in U.S. history, attracting an average audience of 23 million viewers. 

The strategic decision showcased that people are willing to pay for an additional streaming service if it provides exclusive content they genuinely want to watch.

The backlash

The online streaming requirement for the Chiefs-Dolphins game caused quite the stir. The game was paywalled with the exception of local markets in Kansas City and Miami, who were able to watch the game via local affiliates. Thousands of fans took to social media to voice their dismay at the move, including a player from one of the teams.

Defensive end for the Chiefs Charles Omenihu took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to write “Us playing on Peacock ONLY is insane I won’t lie,” voicing his disappointment at the Peacock deal.

The subscriber surge and the real test

The analytics firm Antenna conducted a preliminary analysis that estimates that Peacock gained 2.8 million new subscribers over the NFL Wild Card Game weekend. 

However, the critical question is how many new subscribers will remain loyal to Peacock. This is where data indicating that people often forget to cancel streaming services becomes crucial, as it may influence the long-term success of Peacock's strategy.

Streaming service overload

The surge in streaming popularity is undeniable, according to a FinanceBuzz survey revealing that households are increasingly subscribing to multiple services. The study shows that 24% of households now pay for at least three additional streaming services compared to a year ago, highlighting the growing trend of consumers diversifying their streaming subscriptions.

Subscription costs and viewer habits

As streaming services multiply, subscription costs can quickly accumulate. The survey indicates that 1 in 4 households spends more than $75 per month on streaming subscriptions, while 41% admit to relying on someone else's login to avoid paying. Moreover, the study reveals that 70% of those using free trials have forgotten to cancel, shedding light on the potential for subscription inertia.

Factors influencing subscription decisions

What platforms customers subscribe to ultimately comes down to price, content library, and original programming. Exclusive shows, like Disney+'s success with The Mandalorian and Peacock's approach of using syndicated shows to drive subscriptions, are also a surefire way to lure customers.

How to save on streaming subscriptions

Cancel. Your. Free. Trial.

All too often, we sign up for a free trial and simply forget to cancel. Before we know it, our card is charged around $10 a month and before we realize, we’ve been members for months. The true test for Peacock will be how many customers actually stay on after the initial trial period.

In general, review your subscriptions and check to see if your credit card offers points or benefits towards streaming services.

The bottom line

Peacock's exclusive NFL streaming event undeniably brought in a significant number of new subscribers, but the challenge now is retaining them amidst the competitive streaming landscape. Streaming giants have the upper hand in landing exclusive deals for events consumers really want to watch — but it’s ultimately in consumers’ hands whether or not they give it up so they can keep more money in their wallets.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.