Cable-and-entertainment giant had to fight with dinosaurs and skilled fighters in its second quarter, and came up a little short: the Philadelphia company’s profit slipped in the period, when it had to contend with comparisons to a year-earlier quarter that contained summer blockbusters “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7.”
The Philadelphia owner of NBCUniversal and the Comcast cable empire said net income in the second quarter fell 5.1% in the period, owing to weaker performance at NBCU’s film operations, which in 2016 lacked a hit on the order of those two movie hits. Comcast said net income came to $2.03 billion, or 83 cents a share, compared with almost $2.14 billion, or 84 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Performance at NBCU’s other units was robust, however, as were results at the company’s flagship cable business.
The movies caused hiccups in the performance of NBCU, where overall revenue fell 1.8% despite improved performance at the unit’s broadcast, cable and theme-park operations, as well as Comcast’s cable business. The outsize results of last year’s movie releases were hard to top. Last year, during a second quarter conference with investors, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts proclaimed them “the highlight of the quarter.” But box-office results can be hard to match from year to year.
Revenue in the period rose 2.8% to about $19.27 billion, compared with $18.74 billion in the year-earlier quarter.
During a conference call with investors Wednesday. Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the comparisons with the year-earlier film performance were expected, and praised performance elsewhere in the company’s portfolio of businesses. He said consumer interest in the company’s “X1” cable service was growing, and pointed to a “voice remote” that had proven appealing to subscribers. NBCU’s coming coverage of the Olympics from Rio, he said, would be “unprecdented,” and could help drive growing acceptance of “X1,” which lets subscribers choose from TV networks as well as streaming video with a single “dashboard.”
Revenue from cable distribution and other services rose 6% to $12.4 billion, the results of increases in high-speed Internet, business services, and video revenue. Comcast said it narrowed its losses of video customer to just 4,000, compared with 69,000 in the year-earlier period, and that its overall customer relationships rose by 115,000. Comcast said it benefited from more customers buying additional services as well as the purchase of political advertising on its cable systems.
Revenue at NBCUniversal fell 1.8% to $7.1 billion, owing to the shortfall at the filmed-entertainment unit. Revenue increased at NBCU’s cable, broadcast and theme-park operations, however.
At the cable networks, revenue rose 4.7%, to $2.6 billion, owing to higher revenue from distribution and content licensing. Advertising revenue, Comcast said, was flat Broadcast-TV revenue rose 17.3% to $2.1 billion, due to higher revenue from content licensing, distribution and advertising. The figures reflect the performance of the company’s flagship NBC broadcast network as well as its TV stations and Telemundo Spanish-language station operations. Ad revenue rose just 2.9%, while content licensing revenue rose 59% and distribution revenue rose 35%. Revenue from the unit’s theme parks rose 47%, to $1.1 billion.
Filmed entertainment saw revenue tumble 40.4% owing to a 78.8% decline in theatrical revenue in comparison to the year-earlier period, which boasted the outsize release of “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7.”