Peacock Losses, Hurricane Ian Hurt Comcast Q4 Earnings

Comcast office space with logo
(Image credit: Comcast)

Comcast reported lower fourth-quarter earnings as red ink grew at its Peacock streaming service and the cable company lost video and broadband subscribers.

Peacock grew to 20 million paid subscribers from the 15 million reported in October, but the investment in Peacock expanded its quarterly loss to $978 million, dragging down earnings at NBCUniversal. 

Comcast President Michael Cavanagh, speaking on the company's earnings call Thursday, said Peacock lost $2.5 billion in 2022 and that losses would peak at $3 billion in 2023.

Also: Comcast Cord-Cutting Accelerated to Record 11.2% High in 2022

Hurricane Ian caused a loss in broadband customers at Comcast Cable and cord-cutting cost the company 440,000 video subscribers.

Despite the issues, Comcast’s financial results came in ahead of analyst projections.

Fourth-quarter net income was down 1.1% to $3 billion, or 70 cents a share, from $3.1 billion, or 66 cents a share a year ago. The results included $541 million in higher severance expenses, with $305 million coming at Comcast's cable unit.

Comcast overall revenue rose 0.7% to $30.6 billion.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit was down 36.3% to $1.3 billion. Revenue there rose 5.9% to $9.9 billion.

Media earnings were down 81.7% to $132 million as revenue rose 2.6% to nearly $6 billion. Excluding money generated by the Olympics, Super Bowl and Telemundo’s World Cup coverage, media revenues were down 1.9%.

Earnings were affected by losses growing to $978 million at NBCU’s Peacock streaming service from $559 million a year ago. Peacock revenue rose to $660 million from $335 million a year ago.

Also Read: NBCU’s Peacock Cracks 1% Share of Viewing in December: Nielsen

Overall, NBCU advertising revenue rose 4%, driven by the World Cup and gains at Peacock.

Earnings at Comcast Cable rose 1.5% to $7.231 billion as the unit’s revenue was up 1.4% to $16.6 billion.

The company said it lost 26,000 broadband customers in the quarter because of Hurricane Ian. Excluding the impact from the storm, the company estimated it would have added 4,000 customers.

Video customer losses were 440,000.

Broadband revenues were up 5.4% to $6.2 billion and video revenues were down 5.6% to $5.1 billion. Advertising revenues rose 9.1% to $892 million.

Comcast said it would increase its dividend by 7.4% to 29 cents a share per quarter.

“I am proud of how our team executed throughout 2022,” chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said. “We are excited to begin the new year as an innovative leader in large profitable markets with a strong balance sheet and a strategy to drive incremental returns and bring outstanding content and experiences to our customers. The board's confidence in our position and path forward is underscored by today’s announcement that we are increasing our dividend for the 15th consecutive year.” ■

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.