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Peloton’s brand gets slammed again after an unfavorable portrayal in ‘Billions’

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Peloton Interactive Inc. stationary bicycles sit on display at the company’s showroom on Madison Avenue in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Warning: This article includes some spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of “Billions.”

The hits just keep coming for Peloton.

Capping off a turbulent week for the connected fitness company, which entailed shares plummeting as Peloton said it is considering layoffs and planning to “right-size” production levels as demand for its equipment wanes, another television character appeared in a popular TV show having a heart attack after riding a Peloton Bike.

This comes about a month after a main character on HBO’s “Sex and the City” sequel series died from a heart attack after taking a Peloton cycling class.

In the Season 6 premiere of the Showtime drama “Billions,” main character Mike Wagner suffers a heart attack while riding a Peloton Bike. He recovers shortly thereafter, however, and says later in the episode, “I’m not going out like Mr. Big,” referring to the “Sex and the City” Peloton appearance. (This episode had an early release on Friday, ahead of its scheduled on-air premiere Sunday evening.)

According to The New York Times, the scene in “Billions” was written and shot months before Mr. Big’s “And Just Like That…” scene. The line referencing Mr. Big was added recently in post-production, the report said.

A spokesperson for the show did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Peloton said in a statement on its Twitter account that it did not give “Billions” permission to use its brand on the show.

Peloton’s head of global marketing and communications, Dara Treseder, also said on Twitter: “We did not provide Billions with any equipment. As referenced by the show itself, there are strong benefits of cardio-vascular exercise. Exercise helps millions of real people lead long, happy lives.”

After Peloton’s cameo in “Sex and the City” started going viral online, shares of the company tumbled. Peloton quickly fired back with its own parody ad, starring Mr. Big actor Chris Noth, in which he ended up living and touted the benefits of cardio exercise.

But the rebuttal backfired when sexual assault allegations against Noth surfaced, and Peloton pulled its video from all social media accounts. (Noth denied that he assaulted the two women, saying the “encounters were consensual.”)

Earlier in the week, Peloton pre-announced its fiscal second-quarter financial results after CNBC reported the company planned to temporarily halt production levels of its bikes and treadmill machines, on a staggered timeline, in order to reset inventory levels. CEO John Foley later said in a memo to workers that it wasn’t true that Peloton would be “halting all production.”

The company said revenue for the three-month period ended Dec. 31 will be within its previously forecast range but that it added fewer subscribers than it had expected.

“As we discussed last quarter, we are taking significant corrective actions to improve our profitability outlook and optimize our costs across the company,” Foley said in a statement. “This includes gross margin improvements, moving to a more variable cost structure, and identifying reductions in our operating expenses as we build a more focused Peloton moving forward.”

After rallying more than 440% in 2020, Peloton shares tumbled 76% in 2021.

Last week, the stock fell back below its IPO price of $29. It closed Friday at $27.06, giving the company a market cap of $8.8 billion.

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