'Billions' is the latest TV show to create a PR problem for Peloton

The fitness company is getting more of the attention it hoped to avoid.

Mike 'Wags' Wagner (David Costabile) in season 6 of 'Billions.' (Jeff Neumann/Showtime)

This post contains spoilers for the sixth season of 'Billions.'

Peloton can't quite escape the publicity headaches from TV shows featuring its products. According to The New York Times and The Verge, the premiere episode of Billions season six includes a scene that, like the Sex and the City follow-up And Just Like That, paints Peloton's Bike in a less-than-flattering light — if not quite as dire as before.

The scene depicts Mike "Wags" Wagner (played by David Costabile) having a heart attack while riding his Peloton spin bike. Unlike the And Just Like That scene, however, Wagner survives — he even references the AJLT scene, telling staff that he's "not going out" like that character. Billions' executive producers told The Times the moment was filmed in spring 2021, months before AJLT's debut, and that the team overdubbed the reference to the other show in postproduction to reflect "what Wags would say."

Peloton stressed in a statement to Engadget that it hadn't provided the Bike or otherwise greenlit the use of its brand for Billions. It even celebrated parts of the episode, noting that the show highlighted the "strong benefits" of a cardio workout. When the AJLT scene caused a panic, Peloton faulted the character's lifestyle and suggested the bike at least delayed the inevitable. It went on to create a promo to defend its products in response, although it pulled that ad soon after when the focus of the promo, actor Chris Noth, faced accusations of sexual assault.

The Billions scene isn't the biggest PR crisis Peloton has faced lately. The company's stock price plunged after a (since-denied) claim it halted production due to slowing sales. However, it does illustrate Peloton's odd position. While its fitness gear is still considered iconic, the company is no longer quite so revered by shoppers or the entertainment business.

You can read Peloton's full statement below.

We get why these fictional TV shows would want to include a brand that people love to talk about, but Showtime's use of Peloton's Bike+ and reference to a Peloton Instructor was not a brand, product, or instructor placement, and we did not agree for our brand and IP to be used on this show or provide any equipment. As referenced by the show itself, there are strong benefits of cardio-vascular exercise to help people lead long, happy lives.