Comcast added 262,000 broadband subscribers in Q1, better than some analysts' estimates and fueled by what the company said was record customer retention levels in the period, as its wireless business had its best quarterly subscriber gain ever.
Broadband growth was still nearly half of the 461,000 customers it added in Q1 2021, but Comcast bested some analysts who expected subscriber additions in the 180,000 to 225,000 range. The big difference appeared to be customer retention. Comcast does not release churn numbers, but said its broadband business “benefited from the highest level of customer retention on record for any quarter.”
Analysts noted that a good chunk of the broadband gain was the result of the conversion of customers who were on free plans that ended in 2021 to paying subscribers. Excluding this one-time gain — which some analysts estimated accounted for about one-third of additions in the quarter — and Comcast actually added about 170,000 to 175,000 broadband customers in the period.
On the wireless side, Comcast continued to impress. Its 318,000 customer additions in the period increased its total wireless base to 4.3 million.
The subscriber increases also helped drive cable unit revenue up 4.7% to $16.5 billion and cash flow rose 6.5% to $7.3 billion. Consolidated revenue was up 14% to $31 billion and overall cash flow rose 8.8% to $9.2 billion.
In a press release, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts was pleased with the results, and noted the company continues to make “important organic investments,” pointing to its streaming platform partnership with Charter Communications that was unveiled yesterday (April 27).
“This partnership demonstrates the benefits of our focus on innovation and enables us to bring entertainment aggregation and streaming products that run off our global technology platform to millions more customers,” Roberts said. “In cable, we are increasing the capacity of our broadband network and providing our customers with cutting-edge equipment that delivers the best in-home experience. Our media business is performing well, and the scale of our reach is underscored by our successful broadcast of the Super Bowl and the Olympics in the same week. These events were viewed by more than 200 million people in the U.S. across NBCUniversal’s platforms, including Peacock, which had an exceptional quarter. Our recovery from the pandemic at theme parks has been fantastic and shows no signs of slowing down.” ▪️
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.
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