Broadcast Gains Push NBCU Earnings Higher

NBCUniversal reported an increase in cash flow in the third quarter because of a strong performance by its broadcast network.

Comcast said operating cash flow at NBCU increased 13.3% to $1.4 billion. Revenue rose 1.2% to $5.9 billion.

Broadcast cash flow jumped to $142 million from $34 million. Revenues rose 7.7% to $1.8 billion. The company said that higher ad sales, which rose 4.4% to $1.2 billion, retransmission fees and content licensing revenue contributed to the gain.

At NBCU's cable networks, cash flow rose 1.8% to $868 million as revenues rose 0.7% to $2.3 billion. Ad revenue was down 4.6% to $796 million because of a decline in ratings, while distribution revenue rose 5.1% to $1.3 billion, the company said.

"At NBCUniversal, we had another outstanding quarter with double-digit operating cash flow growth, driven by ratings momentum at NBC Broadcast and the successful opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley in Orlando," CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement

For Comcast as a whole, net income rose 50%% to $2.6 billion, 99 cents a share from $.7 billion, or 65 cents a share. Excluding income tax adjustments and transaction-related costs, earnings rose 12.3% to 73 cents a share.

Revenues rose 4% to $16.8 billion.

The company said costs related to its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable and sale of systems to Charter Communications were $77 million in the quarter. The Time Warner Cable deal is still going through a lengthy review by the government.

Cable cash flow rose 5.1% to $11 billion and revenues rose 5.1% to $4.5 billion.

Video revenue increased 1% to $5.2 billion. The number of video subscribers fell slightly to 22.4 million, while broadband and voice customers rose.

Advertising revenues rose 12.3% to $607 million.

"I am pleased to report strong revenue, operating cash flow and free cash flow growth for the third quarter of 2014," Roberts said. "Cable results highlight the consistent strength of high-speed Internet and business services, and video customer results were the best for a third quarter in seven years. We continue to focus on innovation and providing the best experience for our customers, and we are thrilled with the response to our superior X1 platform, which recently reached five million boxes deployed." 

Jon Lafayette

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.