Comcast Corp. said fourth-quarter profit declined owing to comparisons with a year-earlier period that enjoyed a sizable tax benefit, even as revenue at both its main operating divisions increased. And the company unveiled more details about an ad-supported streaming service it intends to unveil next year.
The Philadelphia-owned of Comcast cable operations and the NBCUniversal entertainment conglomerate said net income in the fourth quarter came to $2.51 billion, or 55 cents a share, compared with $15 billion, or $3.17 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter, when results included one-time tax benefit. Excluding the one-time item, Comcast’s fourth-quarter earnings increased 36%, to 64 cents per share.
Revenue rose 5.2% $28.3 billion, the company said, including the effects of its recent acquisition of satellite broadcaster Sky PLC.
“We truly became a global company with our acquisition of Sky, and are excited about its future and the potential of our combined company in 2019 and beyond,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a prepared statement.
Revenue from cable operations rose 5.2% to $14.1 billion, the company said,owing to increases in most areas of operation, offset by a 1.6% decrease in revenue from residential video customers. Comcast said its total customer relationships increased to 30.3 million in the quarter, an increase of 258,000 from the year-earlier period.
Meanwhile, revenue at NBCUniversal rose 7.1% to $9.4 billion, owing to increased results at the unit’s broadcast and cable networks. Comcast said revenue at NBCU’s cable networks rose 8.9%, to $2.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018, owing to increases in revenue from distribution and content licensing. Revenue from broadcast TV rose 3.7% to $3.1 billion, owing to increases in revenue from distribution and advertising. Revenue from filmed entertainment rose 14% to $2 billion, largely due to results from the films “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” and “Halloween.” Revenue at the company’s theme parks rose 3.5% to $1.5 billion owing to higher attendance.
During a conference call with investors Wednesday, Comcast executives offered more detail on a free, ad-supported streaming-video service the company expects to launch in the first half of 2020. The service is expected to include current and past seasons of shows seen on NBCU networks as well as some original content, executives said, along with what NBCU CEO Steve Burke called “a very light ad load” with potential for interactive digital advertising.