Broadband, Wireless Drive Comcast Q1

Comcast Center in Philadelphia
(Image credit: Comcast)

Comcast managed to keep the broadband wheels humming in the first quarter, adding 461,000 high-speed data customers -- inline with last year’s gains of 477,000 customers -- while its wireless business added its most quarterly customers ever -- 278,000.

Broadband revenue for the cable giant rose 12% to $5.6 billion in the period, driving an overall  increase at the cable unit of 5.9% to $15.8 billion. The wireless additions helped drive revenue at that segment up 49.7% to $513 million, and for the first time that business didn’t lose money. 

Also read: Peacock Signups Hit $42 Million As Losses Rise 

Video subscriber losses were 491,000, compared to a loss of 401,000 in Q1 2020. Overall, the cable side of the business increased its cash flow in the quarter by 12.4% to $6.8 billion. The company said its streaming service Peacock ended the period with 42 million signups, up from 33 million about three months ago. The streaming service lost $277 million in the period, compared to a loss of $59 million in the prior year period. 

Overall, Comcast reported consolidated revenue of $27.2 billion (up 2.2) and cash flow of $8.4 billion, (up 3.5%). Revenue at its NBCUniversal programming division was down 9.1% to $7 billion and adjusted cash flow was down 11.8% to $1.49 billion in the period.   

Altice USA posted results yesterday and Charter Communications is reporting earnings tomorrow. Dish Network posted results today, too, amid satellite TV's ongoing decline.

In a press release, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts was pleased with the results.

“Our entire company performed well across the board, highlighted by another strong performance from cable, which posted its third consecutive quarter of double-digit adjusted EBITDA growth, while adding the most quarterly customer relationships in our company’s history,” Roberts said in the release. “Outside of cable, I was also very pleased by the persistent recovery and increasing momentum at NBCUniversal and Sky. Our theme parks once again reached breakeven, excluding Universal Beijing Resort pre-opening costs; and – to the delight of our guests – we successfully re-opened Universal Studios Hollywood on April 16th. At Sky, customer relationship additions increased by 221,000, marking the best first quarter result in six years despite the lockdowns imposed throughout Europe. Across all parts of the company, our teams are executing at a high level and collaborating to drive growth and innovation, and I couldn’t be more excited about our future."

Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.