Comcast 1Q Profit Rises 17% On

NBC Universal revenue falls on comparisons with Super Bowl

Comcast Corp. said its first-quarter net income rose 17% on the strength of revenue from cable subscribers, though the owner of NBCUniversal said revenue at that unit fell 2.4% due to comparisons with the year-earlier period when the NBC broadcast network aired the Super Bowl.

Stripping out that broadcast, revenue at NBCU would have increased 2.4%, though revenue at the broadcast net would have fallen 5.3% rather than 18.5%.

Comcast said revenue for the first quarter of 2013 increased 2.9% to $15.3 billion. Excluding $259 million of revenue generated by the NFL’s Super Bowl in the first quarter of 2012, revenue increased 4.7%, the company said.

The Philadelphia telecommunications-and-entertainment concern said it earned $1.4 billion, or 54 cents per share, in the first quarter, up from $1.2 billion, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter in 2012.

Revenue from cable operations rose 6.4% to $10.2 billion in the first quarter, Comcast said, compared to $9.6 billion in the first quarter of 2012. The figures were supported by an 8.6% hike in revenue from high-speed Internet, a 3.7% increase in revenue from video and a 27.65% increase in revenue from business services. Average monthly revenue per video customer rose 8.1% to $155.05, due to higher rates and more residential customers opting to subscribe to multiple services.

Even so, Comcast said it lost 60,000 cable subscribers in the quarter, compared with a loss of 37,000 in the year-earlier period. During a conference call with investors, executives said the company was focused on putting marketing behind its “triple-play” services, which allows customers to subscribe to cable, phone and broadband all at once. These customers, said Neal Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, tend to demonstrate less “churn” and remain subscribers for longer periods of time.

Revenue at NBCUniversal fell 2.4% to $5.3 billion, Comcast said, compared to $5.5 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Excluding $259 million of revenue generated by the broadcast of the NFL’s Super Bowl in the first quarter of 2012, revenue increased 2.4%.

Revenue from NBCU’s cable nets was strongest, rising 4.6% to $2.2 billion. Comcast said results were buoyed by an 8.6% increase in revenue from distribution, while revenue from advertising increased 2.5%, though it was offset by lower ratings. Revenue from the NBC broadcast network and other broadcast operations fell 18.5% to $1.5 billion compared to $1.9 billion in the first quarter of 2012, Comcast said. Excluding the Super Bowl broadcast in the year-earlier period, revenue decreased 5.3%. The figures were hurt by lower primetime ratings at NBC and lower revenue from licensing content.

During the call, NBCUniversal topper Steve Burke reiterated the company’s stance that turning NBC around would take three to five years. Burke praised the success of “The Voice,” but said the net required a handful of new programs that would break out and capture larger audiences.

“We have real momentum in the fall,” he said, referring to “The Voice” and “Sunday Night Football.” “We have a few others shows showing glimmers of hope, but we really need to get one or two more good shows,” he said, adding “We are going through pilots with a tremendous amount of focus and concentration.”

Comcast in March purchased the remaining 49% of NBCU it did not own from General Electric. The remaining stake cost the company $16.7 billion.

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