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Peacock hits 30 million users as Comcast secures $8.6 billion check for Hulu

NBCUniversal's Peacock (CMCSA) now has 30 million subscribers — up from the previously reported 28 million, Comcast president Mike Cavanagh revealed at a UBS media conference on Monday.

"We feel pretty good with the progress we've been making," the executive said, adding Peacock's average revenue per user, or ARPU, is about $10 a month with losses expected to peak at $2.8 billion this year.

"We started cold three years ago because of the change in ownership of Hulu," Cavanagh continued, referencing Comcast's decision to cede its 33% controlling stake to Disney (DIS).

The two had reached an agreement in 2019 that Disney could purchase Comcast's 33% stake in the streamer as early as 2024. That timeline was moved up to earlier this year with Disney confirming its plans to purchase the stake last month.

Comcast reportedly weighed purchasing Disney's majority stake at one point but changed course due to content rights concerns, as a significant portion of Hulu's content is owned by Disney. Cavanagh revealed the "check cleared" from Disney on Friday.

Under the terms of the agreement, Disney paid Comcast's NBCUniversal a minimum of $8.61 billion, representing the "floor" of what Comcast is owed for the streaming service.

The two companies will now enter negotiations to determine Hulu's full valuation, with Cavanagh noting it's "really just the beginning" of the valuation process.

Parade participants walk alongside a float of Comcast's Peacock during the 97th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Comcast's Peacock appears during the 97th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 23, 2023, in New York City. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy's, Inc.) (Eugene Gologursky via Getty Images)

As the company works to scale Peacock, he said he's most focused on its domestic growth, adding that despite the multitude of changes within media, NBCUniversal's legacy linear business still powers Peacock's overall content engine.

"I think there's so much power in the legacy businesses that even though the linear business model is changing based upon how consumers want to consume, it is the platform to build a future that has to include a digital element as consumers change," he explained, citing Peacock as that digital vessel.

"In that context, we still have very significant distribution, as much as anybody in the traditional linear world," he continued. "Nothing is going to change the gravity that side of the business is feeling, but the infrastructure that we have as we bring it to life in the form of Peacock is a great way to think about the game we're trying to play."

Outside of streaming, the executive also touched on the company's film business after massive successes like "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and Christopher Nolan's "Oppenheimer."

"Our reliance — rather than being on formulaic series — has been more around originality and creativity," he said, an apparent slight dig at Disney, which has heavily relied on franchises like Marvel and Star Wars.

"We're a place where creators want to bring original ideas and we're known to be a good partner in creating that," he continued. "That feels a little bit like what the moment calls for in Hollywood."

Finally, as Wall Street analysts weigh more media M&A to come in 2024, Comcast said the bar remains "very high."

"I'm not eager to distract us from everything that we've been talking about from the very top unless there's a strong and compelling reason to do it," Cavanagh said.

"I really like the organic hand we have against all the businesses that are the growth businesses we have," he added. "We don't need to do anything inorganic acquisition-wise to make any of what I described happened. So, therefore, the bar has to be really high on that front."

Alexandra Canal is a Senior Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @allie_canal, LinkedIn, and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com.

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