Comcast and Paramount Global plans to merge Peacock-Paramount+

Could Paramount+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock join forces to take on the streaming sector’s bigger guns? Maybe — but while Paramount Global and Comcast, NBCU’s parent, recently discussed the possibility of uniting the services in some kind of a partnership or joint venture, there’s no imminent deal expected.

Talks between Comcast and Paramount Global were first reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal. Sources confirmed early discussions between the two, whose respective subscription-streaming platforms are significantly smaller than Netflix and Disney+. But those haven’t progressed beyond the spit-balling stage.

Reps for Paramount Global and Comcast declined to comment.

The two companies already are JV partners for European streaming service SkyShowtime. Established in 2021, it’s designed as a streaming service for both Comcast and Paramount Global that targets European markets that weren’t already being served by Peacock or Paramount+.

Word of the talks about a possible Paramount+-Peacock combination comes as Paramount Global has been the subject of M&A chatter, including speculation that the company could merge with Comcast.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, on the Q4 earnings call last month, signaled again that the cable and media conglomerate doesn’t expect to pursue large M&A deals. “While there may be speculation of what we could do next, I’d like you to hear it directly from me: I love the company we have,” he told analysts. “So the bar continues to be even higher for us to do anything other than the plan you heard today.”

Peacock had 31 million subscribers at the end of 2023, adding about 3 million in the fourth quarter. As of September 2023, Paramount+ reached more than 63 million global subscribers, gaining a net 2.7 million in the third quarter. (Paramount Global is slated to report fourth-quarter 2023 earnings Feb. 28 after the market closes.)

Separately, earlier this week Paramount Global announced a round of companywide layoffs that will result in about 800 staffers being let go.

Paramount Global is facing a few different M&A scenarios. Skydance Media CEO David Ellison has been in talks with Shari Redstone, whose National Amusements Inc., owns a controlling stake in Paramount Global, about buying NAI. Last month Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group made an unsolicited $30 billion acquisition offer, inclusive of debt, for Paramount Global, though it is unclear who his financial partners are. Paramount Global chief Bob Bakish and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav in December briefly discussed the idea of merging WBD and Paramount Global, but that hasn’t gone anywhere.


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