NBCU Cash Flow Up Despite Higher TV Costs

NBCUniversal operating cash flow increased 8.7% in the fourth quarter despite declines at its cable and broadcast networks because of higher costs.

Revenue was up 13%.

The company’s cable networks reported a 1.9% decline in cash flow to $894 million. Revenues were up 3.4% to $2.4 billion.

The company said a 6.8% increase in distribution revenue, partially reflecting the addition of NASCAR to NBCSN, was more than offset by a 0.3% drop in advertising revenue and an increase in sports programming costs, driven by NASCAR and the English Premier League.

For its broadcast TV business, cash flow was down 5.6% to $217 million because of higher operating cost and expenses, the company said. Revenue rose 7%, including a 7% increase in ad revenue driven by higher rates, and increases in content licensing and retransmission consent fees.

Related: Comcast Adds 89K Video Customers in Q4

“NBCUniversal had a remarkable year, with record-breaking results at both Theme Parks and Film, and continued success at NBC, which was number one in primetime for the second consecutive season,” said Brian Roberts, CEO of parent company Comcast, in a statement.

Comcast’s fourth quarter net income rose to $1.971 billion, or 79 cents a share, from $1.925 billion, or 74 cents a share. Revenue increased 8.5% to $17.7 billion.

Comcast's cable operating cash flow increased 4.6% to $4.9 billion and revenue was up 5.9% to $12 billion.

At a time when cord cutting is a big concern to the TV business, Comcast said it added 89,000 video customers in the fourth quarter, the best results for a quarter in eight years. For the year, Comcast had a net loss of 36,000 video customers to 22.3 million.

Revenue for video was up 4.4% to $5.4 billion, revenue for high speed internet was up 9.8% to $3.2 billion and revenue for voice was down 1.7% to $899 million. Business service revenue was up 18.9% to $1.3 billion. Ad revenue was down 9.3% to $639 million 

"At Comcast Cable, our focus on delivering the most innovative products and improving the customer experience led to fantastic operating metrics, including our best video customer results in nine years, and our best high-speed Internet customer results in eight years,” Roberts said.

The cable giant increased its dividend by 10% to $1.10 per share annually. It also increased its authorization to repurchase shares to $10 billion and side $5 billion worth of stock will be repurchased in 2016.

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.