There’s something lurking in the pay TV waters. Comcast, who owns 75 percent of Sky TV, signed a deal to make content with WarnerMedia’s HBO and have recently announced a massive new studio in London. These are the signs that Comcast is making moves to save pay TV — in Europe.
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NBC Peacock’s announcement
All headlines have jumped onto the fact Peacock will be free for Comcast customers. They seem to have missed how this adds value to keeping pay TV users.
CFO Mike Cavanagh said at the UBS Global TMT Conference that the service would spend $2 billion on content and marketing over the first two years. With the $3 billion investment made in London, England, this $2 billion could end up only a small part of what Comcast is actually creating.
Failed buyout attempts
It’s no secret that Comcast tried to buy Time Warner Cable and 21st Century Fox. The deal with Time Warner Cable was canceled because of government concern, and Disney just kept pumping up the bids on Fox. It ended up at over $71 billion. Comcast decided to pick up Sky TV instead. It’s a bizarre alternative, as Sky TV has no back catalog.
Sky TV is a British telecommunications company. So, Comcast now has a British market but no content beyond what they license or make. This is where it gets interesting. The best way to keep pay TV relevant is to keep sports and create exclusives. Diversifying to Europe gives Comcast new hope.
Comcast turning to Europe
From the Peacock announcement, the most interesting statement was that they’re not looking to play somebody else’s hand. This has to mean they’re looking at the market differently.
In Europe, Sky Studios are making content with NBC Peacock and HBO for Comcast’s Sky TV. This can only happen in Europe, and it gives them access to creative talent at HBO and in Britain. All they need to do is fend of Amazon Prime Video from the English Premier League and Europe could become Comcast’s beachhead in saving pay TV.
The secret sauce in this setup is that they can poach all the British movies and show creators before other streaming services. This could lead to Comcast owning the next Downton Abbey, The Office, or Fleabag.