Peacock's cable nets, theme parks drive gains

Cable giant Comcast saw revenue surge 51% last quarter to $14.3 billion as the company’s core biz was a standout in the sector and NBUniversal’s cable networks and theme parks posted solid growth.

The film studio and broadcast net lagged as Universal struggled for a hit and NBC remains fourth among the big four in the ratings.

Filmed entertainment revenue fell nearly 8%.

Broadcasting swung to a $7 million operating loss from a $70 million profit the year before.

Comcast’s total net profit rose 3.6% to $908 million from $876 million.

The company’s acquisition of NBCUniversal closed in January and it consolidated the Orlando Universal theme parks this summer. Pro forma revenue, which assumes all the same assets in both quarters, would have grown a more modest 4.9%.

At NBCUniversal, revenue rose 4.6 % to $5.2 billion.

“NBCUniversal’s results underscore the strength of our core cable networks business, as well as terrific momentum at the theme parks. Our goal for NBCUniversal is to improve and build brands, and to enhance long-term value. Overall, this quarter continued our momentum toward a successful integration,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Revenue for cable networks rose 12 % to $2.1 billion on a 10.2 % increase in distribution revenue, a 9.5 % increase in advertising revenue and a 37.2 % increase from licensing its own content.

Operating cash flow fell 2 % to $751 million on ramped up investment in original programming and some one time costs.

Broadcast television revenue rose 2.9 % to $1.5 billion, reflecting higher content licensing revenue, partly offset by ratings pressure at the NBC broadcast network and lower political advertising at NBC’s local stations. The negative cash flow reflected increased investment in primetime, news programming, and local stations.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said the advertising business in both cable and broadcast continues to be strong, more so on the national than the local side. “We’re 90% sold out for the Super Bowl. We’re seeing lots of demand for all sorts of cable and broadcast advertising, so that still continues to be a bright spot,” he said during a conference call.

Filmed Entertainment revenue fell 7.8 % to $1.1 billion as lower theatrical revenue offset higher home entertainment revenue from “Bridesmaids” and the international release of “Fast Five.”

Cash flow fell 16.9 % to $54 million.

Theme park revenue rose 9.1 % to $580 million.

Revenue at the core cable business, the largest in the nation, rose 5 % to $9.3 billion.

Advertising revenue fell 4 % on lower political spending.

Video revenue nosed up 1.1 % year-on-year to $4.9 billion.

The Philadelphia company, which ended the quarter with 49.367 million subscribers, saw stronger growth in high-speed Internet revenue (up 9.8 %), voice (up 6.3 %) and business services (up 39 %).

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