It doesn’t happen often, but in Q2 Comcast found more to like from its movie studio than from its cable systems.
Universal’s The Fate Of The Furious helped to drive a nearly 60% gain in revenues vs the period last year at NBCUniversal’s Filmed Entertainment unit.
Meanwhile, Comcast’s cable operation lost 34,000 customers — dropping 45,000 residential ones, but gaining 11,000 from its business services; in the period last year it lost a total of 4,000.
Overall, the conglomerate reported net income of $2.51 billion, up 23.9%, on revenues of $21.17 billion, up 9.8%. The top line beat analyst expectations for $20.84 billion. Earnings at 52 cents per share also topped the Street’s target of 48 cents.
Comcast shares are up 1.6% in pre-market trading.
“Thanks to broad-based momentum across our businesses, our first half Adjusted EBITDA growth is the fastest in six years,” CEO Brian Roberts says. “NBCUniversal continued to deliver outstanding performance, with 17.3% revenue growth and 22.6% Adjusted EBITDA growth. Driving these tremendous results were the box office success of Fate of the Furious, continued increases in affiliate and retransmission revenues at our TV businesses, and impressive growth at our Theme Parks.”
The NBCUniversal operation improved across the board with revenues up 17.3% to $8.33 billion.
Cable Networks saw a 5.1% gain to nearly $2.70 billion even though ad sales fell 0.9% as rising rates failed to overcome the drop in ratings. But distribution revenues increased 8.1% due to higher rates, overcoming what the company describes as “a decline in subscribers at our cable networks.”
Content licensing also was up 10.5%.
Revenues at the NBC-led Broadcast Television operation rose 5.3% to $2.24 billion, also mostly due to rising fees the company charges cable and satellite distributors. Ad sales dropped 1.2% due to ratings weakness, but distribution revenues increased 36.1%.
Filmed Entertainment was the star of the show, up 59.6% to $2.16 billion. That was “primarily” due to theatrical sales, the company says, which rose 182% to $837 million led by The Fate Of The Furious. Home entertainment was helped by Fifty Shades Darker and Sing. This year also includes results for DreamWorks Animation, acquired last August.
Theme Park revenues rose 15.6% to $1.31 billion. The operation benefited from “the timing of spring break vacations” as well as “the continued success of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Hollywood.
NBCU was dwarfed by Comcast’s cable systems, which saw revenues improve 5.5% to $13.12 billion. Although video subs fell, Comcast customers paid more due to “rate adjustments and an increase in the number of customers subscribing to additional services.”
Meanwhile the company added 175,000 internet subs.