Earnings

Comcast reports strong internet customer growth, 10 million sign-ups for Peacock

Comcast reported its second-quarter earnings before the bell on Thursday, beating analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.

It’s the first earnings report since Comcast’s NBCUniversal launched its new ad-supported streaming service, Peacock, and the first to reflect the full extent of the pandemic on Comcast’s business.

Shares of Comcast, parent company of CNBC, popped on the report in premarket trading, but pared gains during the company’s earnings call after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said effects from film revenue losses will be felt in 2021 and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch said ad revenue continued to see challenges. 

The stock fell 0.5% on Thursday.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings per share: 69 cents adjusted, vs. 55 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $23.72 billion, vs. $23.57 billion expected in the Refinitiv survey
  • High-speed internet customers: 323,000 net adds vs. 247,000 expected in a FactSet survey

Despite the pandemic lockdowns that persisted through much of the second quarter in many parts of the world, Comcast reported some positive signs.

High-speed internet customers grew at a faster-than-expected rate, reaching a second quarter record in cable with more than 217,000 net customer relationship adds. Comcast also said it has retained 95% of Sky sports customers since the beginning of the pandemic, despite the postponement of major live sports events. Sky revenue fell 15.5% during the quarter to $4.1 billion, which included a 43% decline in Sky advertising revenue.

As internet customers grew, Comcast saw total video customer net losses of 477,000.

Comcast has extended promotions it has offered customers to help get through the new conditions set by the crisis, including making its Internet Essentials free through year-end and keeping its out of home Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots free through the end of the year.

The company said Peacock has already seen 10 million sign-ups since launching in April for Comcast subscribers and more broadly this month. 

But Comcast’s NBCUniversal division took some hits in the second quarter as advertisers pulled back spending and theme parks had to shut down entirely. NBCUniversal revenue declined 25.4% year over year to $6.1 billion. 

Theme parks had the steepest drop in revenue in the quarter, declining 94.1% to $87 million. Universal’s parks in Orlando, Florida, and Japan were able to reopen with limited capacity in June, but rising case counts in Florida could jeopardize any progress.

Filmed entertainment was impacted by theater closures but saw its content licensing revenue grow 19.5%, partially as a result of shifting releases like “Trolls World Tour” to premium video on demand. Overall revenue for the segment declined 18.1% to $1.2 billion.

While parks revenue poses a more near-term impact, the effects of delayed production in NBCUniversal’s film segment will be felt later on, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said on the company’s earnings call.

“The negative financial effects will be felt in coming years, particularly in 2021,” he said.

Still, he said, with the postponement of the Olympics, the Summer and Winter Games are expected take place in consecutive years, providing an expected boost to Peacock.

“For Peacock it’s a bit of a silver lining for next year,” he said, noting that the platform would ideally have further reach by then.

Advertising revenue for cable networks declined 27% and for broadcast television, 27.9%, reflected decreased spending and canceled sports events. Both divisions saw content licensing revenue jump 23.1% and 58.5%, respectively, due to timing of licensing agreements including transactions with Peacock.

Here’s how Comcast’s divisions did for the quarter:

  • Cable communications accounted for $14.4 billion in total revenue, down 0.2% year over year
  • Cable networks accounted for $2.5 billion in total revenue, down 14.7%
  • Broadcast television brought in $2.4 billion in total revenue, down 1.6%
  • Filmed entertainment brought in $1.2 billion in total revenue, down 18.1%
  • Theme parks brought in $87 million in total revenue, down 94.1%

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.

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This article was originally published on CNBC

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