The animation hit helped to offset some of the expected weakness at NBC‘s broadcasting unit, which faced tough comparisons with last year when it had the London Olympics. All told, net income attributable to Comcast came in at $1.73B, -18% vs last year’s Q3, on revenues of $16.15B, -2.4%. The top-line figure is lower than the $16.25B analysts had expected. But earnings at 65 cents a share beat forecasts for 61 cents. NBCUniversal was a mixed bag with revenues falling 14.2% to $5.85B and operating cash flow +9.6% to $1.25B — though the company says revenues would have been +3.9% if you factor out the contributions from last year’s Olympics. The cable networks showed 4.0% revenue growth to $2.24B, helped by a 5.4% increase in affiliate fees and 4.6% increase in ad sales — but a 6.5% drop in content licensing. NBC broadcasting needed more explaining with revenues -41.1% to $1.64B. The loss of the $1.2B from the Olympics overshadowed a 2.6% increase in retransmission consent fees and an equal increase in ad revenue. The filmed entertainment unit had a simpler story with revenues +3.3% to $1.4B — but operating cash flow +164.1% to $189M. Despicable Me 2 drove the results, though it was offset somewhat by lower home entertainment results as the studio had fewer releases this quarter than it had last year.
Meanwhile, the theme parks continued to make steady progress: Revenues rose 7.9% to $661M helped by higher spending in Orlando with the introduction of its Transformers attraction. “NBCUniversal delivered solid performance in every one of its segments, with healthy growth in revenue and double-digit cash flow growth, adjusting for the results of the Olympics last year,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts says. “Comcast NBCUniversal has real momentum and many opportunities ahead.”
The main cable distribution business also had a complicated story in Q3 with revenues +5.2% to $10.5B and operating cash flow +6.2% to $4.2B. The number of video subscribers fell by 129,000 to 21.65M, but revenues for the TV operation increased 2.9% to $5.1B as rate increases offset a 10.8% fall in ad sales with the loss of political ads that boosted last year’s results. But high-speed internet sales were strong with subscriptions increasing 297,000 to 20.28M, and revenues +7.9% to $2.59B.