Comcast said first-quarter profit rose due to NBCUniversal’s telecasts of both Super Bowl LVI and the Winter Olympics, as well as a surge in broadband customers at its cable operations.
The Philadelphia cable and media giant saw overall revenue increase 14% to slightly more than $31 billion, compared with $27.2 billion in the year-earlier period, with a whopping 46.6% increase in revenue at its NBCU operations due in part to $1.5 billion in cash generated by the two big sports events. But even without those two landmark broadcasts, Comcast said, NBCU revenue would have increased.
Overall, Comcast reported net income of $3.55 billion in the first quarter, or 78 cents a share, compared with $3.32 billion, or 71 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for one-time items, earnings came to 86 cents per share.
“These events were viewed by more than 200 million people in the U.S. across NBCUniversal’s platforms, including Peacock, which had an exceptional quarter,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, in a prepared statement, referring to the sports broadcasts. The company did not make any initial disclosure in its announcement about subscribers to Peacock, its streaming service. The metric has been closely watched by Wall Street in recent quarters.
Comcast said revenue from its cable operations rose 4.7% to $16.5 billion, compared with $15.8 billion in the year-earlier period, citing increases in customers using broadband, business services, and wireless. Broadband revenue increased 8.0% due to both a rise in the number of residential customers using the technology and hike in average rates being charged for the service. But usage of the company’s traditional video services fell, with a 1.5% decrease in revenue. Comcast said it lost approximately 512,000 traditional video customers, even as it added 194,000 customers for other services during the period.
At NBCUniversal, revenue increased noticeably thanks to advertising and distribution fees generated by the Olympics and Super Bowl. The company also benefitted from the world’s gradual exit from the coronavirus pandemic, with its movie and theme-park operations showing healthier results spurred by the release of “Sing 2” and better conditions at its Universal theme parks in the U.S. and Japan.
Sky operations were more challenged, Comcast said, with revenue off 0.5% to nearly $4.78 billion. The company indicated it had lost some revenue due to a change in sports programming availability in Germany and Italy.