Movies Give NBCU 3Q Profit Boost

NBCUniversal’s TV businesses had a mixed quarter, with cable network profits down and broadcast up, while its movie business posted huge gains.

NBCUniversal operating cash flow increased 17% to $1.7 billion in the third quarter, according to parent company Comcast, which announced its earnings Tuesday.

Revenues were up 20.8% to $7.2 billion. The jump was powered by a big jump in Universal’s movie business thanks to Jurassic World, and record attendance at the theme parks.

Operating cash flow for NBCU’s cable networks was down 3.9% to $835 million. Revenues rose 7% to $2.4 billion, ad revenue was up 2% and distribution revenue was up 8.6%. But sports programming costs increased sharply, including the acquisition of rights to NASCAR.

At the broadcast television unit, operating cash flow was up 6.1% to $150 million. Revenues rose 11.3% to $2 billion, thanks to higher content licensing revenue, higher retrains fees and a 2.8% increase in ad revenue.

For all of Comcast, third quarter net income as $1.996 billion, or 80 cents a share, down from $2.592 billion, or 99 cents a share a year ago. A year ago, Comcast’s earnings benefited from favorable tax adjustments. Excluding the tax adjustments and some costs from the proposed Time Warner merger, earnings per share were up 9.6% to 80 cents.

Revenues rose 11.2% to $18.7 billion.

Profits were in line with Wall Street expectations and revenues were slightly higher than forecast.

At Comcast's cable business, video customers were down 48,000. The company said that was a 41% improvement from a year ago, and the best third quarter in nine years.

Total customer relationships were up 156,000, including a 320,000 increase in high-speed Internet customers.

“I’m pleased to report that our businesses generated outstanding revenue and operating cash flow growth for the third quarter of 2015,” said CEO Brian Roberts.

“At Cable Communications, overall customer relationships increased 156,000, a 90% improvement compared to last year, video subscriber results were the best for a third quarter in 9 years, high-speed Internet subscriber results were the best for a third quarter in 6 years, and churn across all product categories continues to improve,” Roberts said.

“NBCUniversal also delivered terrific results, including another record-breaking box office quarter driven by Minions and Jurassic World, the highest summer attendance ever at our theme parks, and maintaining the #1 broadcast network ranking for the 5th summer in a row,” Roberts added. “These outstanding results from our unique portfolio of complementary businesses underscore our confidence that we are well positioned to compete, continue our strong performance and drive shareholder value.”

(Photo via Pictures of Money's FlickrImage taken on Sept. 17, 2015 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

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.