NBCU Profits Slip 8.5% Despite TV Business Gains

NBCUniversal’s third quarter profits dropped despite gains at its cable networks and broadcast television businesses.

According to parent company Comcast, which released its financial results Thursday morning, NBCU's adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 8.5% to $2.066 billion.

Cable networks and broadcast TV net was up 5.6%, but that was offset by tough comparisons at the company’s movie studios and weather related disruptions at its theme parks.

Cable network earnings were up 6.9% to $968 million on 10.8% revenue growth to $2.884 billion. Ad revenue rose 4.2% and distribution revenue climbed 9.5%. The revenue gains were offset by higher programming and production costs.

Broadcast TV earnings gained 1.8% to $321 million on a 15.4% revenue increase. Ad revenue jumped 9.2%, driven by Telemundo’s broadcast of the World Cup soccer tournament. Distribution and other revenue rose 23.9% due to higher retransmission consent fees. But the World Cup also brought higher programming and production costs that reduce profits.

NBCU revenue increased 8.1% in the quarter to $8.6 billion.

The cable company said its residential video customers fell 1.7% to 20.978 million from 21.314 a year ago.

Overall, Comcast’s earnings and revenues were above Wall Street expectations.

“This is an exciting and important time in Comcast’s history,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Roberts cited the fastest cable earnings growth in six years, acceleration in the growth of customer relationships, the best broadband additions in the third quarter in 10 years. He also pointed to NBC winning the 52-week prime time ratings race for 2017-18 and said the network was off to a great start in the new season

“Our recently completed acquisition of Sky is transformative for our company, helping create a unique global leader in media, technology, television and broadband,” he said.

Comcast said its third quarter net income rose 9.3% to 2.9 billion, or 62 cents a share, from $2.6 billion, or 55 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue increased 5% to $22.1 billion

Cable earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization grew 7.6%

Cable revenue increased 3.4% to $13.3 billion.

Video revenue fell 2.9% to $5.6 billion.

High-speed internet revenue rose 9.6% to $3.9 billion. Business services revenue grew 10.6% to $1.8 billion

Cable advertising revenue rose 15.2% to $594 million.

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.