Comcast reported that cash flow from NBCUniversal rose 10% in the first quarter on a strong performance from its broadcast television unit.
On the cable communications side, Comcast said it had a gain of 53,000 video customers to a total of 22.4 million for the quarter. The increase comes at a time when the industry is concerned that cord-cutting will reduce the number of pay-TV customers. Comcast said that its revenue from video rose 3.9% to $5.5 billion.
“I’m incredibly pleased with our first quarter results and the strength and momentum we are seeing across our businesses. Our performance at Comcast Cable was outstanding. We delivered our best first quarter Internet results in four years and our best first quarter video results in nine years – adding 53,000 video customers,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
“NBCUniversal also had a terrific quarter, reporting double-digit operating cash flow growth, fueled by strength in Broadcast, continued success at our Theme Parks, including Universal Studios Japan, and improved performance from our Cable Networks. Our teams are executing extremely well and I am excited about the opportunities ahead for Comcast NBCUniversal,” Roberts said.
At NBCUniversal, cash flow was $1.6 billion and the growth came despite comparison with having broadcast the Super Bowl a year ago.
Revenue was up 3.9% in the quarter. Excluding the Super Bowl, revenue was up 10.2%
Broadcast television cash flow was up 57% to $284 million, reflecting lower programing and production costs compared to a year ago, Excluding the Super Bowl broadcast revenues were up 11.4%.
Without the Super Bowl, broadcast advertising revenue was up 9.6%, partly because NBC aired one extra NFL game. Ad growth was in the high single digits if that game is taken out of the equation, the company said.
Cable network cash flow was up 6.4% to $956 million. Cable network revenue was up 4% to $2.5 billion. Advertising revenue was flat, the company said. Distribution revenue was up 5.9% as rate increase offset declines in the number of subscribers.
On Comcast's conference call with analysts, NBCU CEO Steve Burke said "the advertising environment remains robust, which we believe sets up [NBCU ad sales boss] Linda Yaccarino and her team for a strong upfront."
Comcast’s net income rose to $2.13 billion, or 87 cents per share, from $2.06 billion, or 81 cents a share a year ago.
Revenue rose 5.3% to $17.9 billion.
Comcast’s cable cash flow rose 5% to $4.7 billion.
Comcast Cable revenues rose 6.7% to $11.4 billion.
In addition to the gains in video subscribers, Comcast had a 7.6% increase in high-speed internet revenue. Revenue from voice was down 1.1%. A big gainer was business services, up 17.5%. And advertising rose 12.1% fueled by an increase in spending by political campaigns.
Comcast stock finished Wednesday up 0.41% at $61.30 a share.
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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.