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Comcast Sees Drop in Q1 Profit as Coronavirus Affects Theme Parks, Movies

Comcast Brian Robertson
MARK LENNIHAN/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Cable-and-entertainment giant Comcast said first quarter net income fell nearly 40%, as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic crimped its theme parks, movie studio and advertising businesses, even as U.S. consumers boosted its cable and broadband operations.

The Philadelphia owner of NBCUniversal and Sky saw a profit of $2.15 billion for the first quarter, down nearly 40% from $3.55 billion a year earlier. Adjusted for one-time items, Comcast saw first quarter profit of $3.27 billion, a 6% drop from last year’s quarter.

Revenue was off 0.9% to $26.6 billion.

“We have a strong balance sheet, terrific portfolio of assets, and a world-class management team,” said Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, in a prepared statement. “This is a moment in time; and when it passes, I am very confident that the decisions we are making now will enable us to emerge from this crisis as a healthy, strong company that is well positioned to continue to grow and succeed.”

But the company acknowledged the pandemic had affected some of its key operations and would likely continue to do so in the second quarter. Comcast said costs in its large cable business had ramped up due to more consumers working from home, and said NBCU and Sky “will be negatively impacted to a greater extent in the second quarter 2020.” The pandemic’s effects will likely “increase in significance in the second quarter 2020” and  and “have a material adverse impact on our consolidated results of operations over the near-to-medium term.”

The results came despite signs of life in the company’s cable operations. Comcast said cable revenue increased 4.5% to $14.9 billion, driven largely by increases in the use of its high-speed internet, business services and wireless products. Yet even as the company added 477,000 high-speed internet customers, it lost  409,000 video subscribers.

NBCUniversal’s revenue dipped 7% to $7.7 billion, with declines coming in advertising revenue at both broadcast and cable networks; theatrical revenue at its film business; and dips at its theme parks due to closures in both Japan and the U.S. Filmed entertainment revenue was off 22.5% while theme park revenue fell 31.9%. the company said.

The results come as Comcast is pushing to launch a new streaming-video service, known as Peacock, that will vie with offerings from Netflix, Amazon, and Walt Disney.