Comcast Boosts Q1 Profit Despite Slowing Broadband, Ad Sales; Peacock U.S. Subs Rise to 22 Million

Comcast said it managed to boost profit during its fiscal first quarter even as it navigated a dip in media advertising and slowing growth among broadband subscribers, yet boosted U.S. subscribers to its Peacock streaming hub to 22 million.

The Philadelphia owner of NBCUniversal, Sky and its large broadband and cable business said profit came to $3.83 billion, or 91 cents per share, compared with $3.55 billion, or 78 cents per share in the year-earlier period. Comcast reported earnings per share of 92 cents after adjusting for one-time items

Revenue fell 4% to $29.69 billion, compared with $31.01 billion in the year-earlier period, thanks to comparisons with a quarter in 2022 that contained both the broadcast of the Super Bowl and the Beijing Olympics.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the company “had solid revenue growth in our high-margin connectivity businesses, while increasing our Peacock subscribers more than 60% year-over-year.” Executives, he added, projected “great momentum across the company, including Studios where Super Mario Bros. has smashed global box office records to become one of the most successful movies of 2023.”

The company made no mention in its earnings report of issues at NBCUniversal, where former CEO Jeff Shell was ousted over the weekend after Comcast investigated allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Shell and a subordinate employee.

The company saw revenue rise a meager 1.8% at its connectivity businesses Comcast added 3,000 residential domestic broadband subscribers in the quarter and2,000 business services domestic broadband customers. The Xfinity wireless segment saw its customer base rise to nearly 5.67 million customers. But cable subscriptions continued to decline with 614,000 customers cutting their subscriptions.

Revenue from Comcast’s media and experiences segments, which includes NBCUniversal, fell 10% to $10.26 billion. Revenue from media was off 38.8%, or $6.15 billion, due to the windfall the company enjoyed in 2022 from broadcasts of the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Excluding $1.5 billion in revenue from those events, media revenue was off 2%, the company said. Revenue from U.S. advertising was off 6.1% during the period, excluding the boost from the big broadcasts, Comcast said, noting that declines in audience at its TV networks could not help an increase in revenue at Peacock.

Peacock subscribers grew more than 60% to 22 million, and Comcast said revenue from the streaming hub was up 45%, to $685 million. Still, its investment in the property continues. Peacock had $704 million in losses, widening from losses of $456 million in the year-earlier period. 

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