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Broadcast, Cable Boost NBCU's First Quarter Earnings

NBCUniversal posted strong profits in the first quarter, with both cable and broadcast TV networks posting double-digit gains.

According to Comcast, which reported earnings Thursday morning, cable network adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 1.68% to $1.12 billion.

Cable network revenues rose 7.6% to $2.6 billion. Distribution revenues were up 8.6% and content licensing revenues rose 54%. Advertising revenues were down 2.9% due to audience ratings declines, the company said.

Broadcast television earnings were up 13.4% to $322 million.

Broadcast revenues rose 5.9% to $2.2 billion. Distribution revenue rose 33.4% because of higher retransmission consent fees. Ad revenues were up 0.3% thanks to higher rates offsetting ratings declines.

Universal Studios' earnings were up 121% to $268 million as revenues climbed 43.2% reflecting strong performances by new releases Fifty Shades Darker, Get Out and Split.

At a time when there is great concern over the number of pay-TV subs dropping, Comcast’s cable operations said that the number of its video subscribers rose by 42,000 to 22.5 million.

Overall, Comcast’s net income rose 20.2% to $2.57 billion, or 53 cents a share, from $2.13 billion, or 43 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenues rose 8.9% to $20.5 billion.

“These impressive results were fueled by exceptionally strong film performance, increased affiliate and retransmission revenues at our TV businesses, and continued growth in Theme Parks,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. “Cable operations had a terrific quarter, driven by strength in high-speed Internet and business services revenue growth, as well as positive video, all highlighted by overall customer relationship net additions of 297,000, a 10% increase compared to last year."

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.