NBCUniversal Recovery Paces Strong Q2 Results For Comcast

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A significant comeback for NBCUniversal paced Comcast’s results in the second quarter as the media giant handily beat Wall Street forecasts.

Total revenue climbed 20% to $28.5 billion, while earnings per share increased 22% to 84 cents. Wall Street analysts had expected earnings of 67 cents a share and revenue of $27.2 billion.

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At NBCU, adjusted EBITDA rose 12.5% to $1.6 billion, even including a loss of $363 million on Peacock, the company’s year-old streaming service. (The company had long projected a money-losing start to the service.) No new user stats were offered for Peacock, which had 42 million sign-ups as of the end of the first quarter, about one-third of which translated to active users.

Peacock launched in April 2020 on Comcast’s own broadband and pay-TV platforms before going national in July of last year. Take-up has thus far been modest by comparison with rival services and the company has been exploring a range of strategic options. The Tokyo Olympics had initially been planned as a major launch pad, but Covid-19 forced a one-year postponement of the Games. As the Games unfold during the current quarter, Peacock is seeing strong viewership as it carries a number of exclusive events. Another exclusive element has been WWE programming, integrated into Peacock after a watershed streaming deal earlier this year.

Comparisons with the second quarter of 2020, the depths of the coronavirus pandemic, were favorable for NBCU and Comcast overall. Theme parks had their first profitable quarter since the first one in 2020, driven by Universal Orlando results. Revenue at the parks unit came in at $1.1 billion, compared with $136 million in the year-ago quarter.

Overall revenue at NBCU jumped 39% to $7.9 billion. Media revenue rose 26% to $5.2 billion, propelled by a 33% gain in advertising as well as momentum in distribution.

The release of F9 boosted the film operations in the quarter, though revenue perked up a more modest 8% at the studio, to $2.2 billion.

Theatrical revenue increased by $191 million, which compared with an almost zero-revenue environment a year ago when theaters were closed in most global territories. But adjusted EBITDA decreased 52% to $156 million in the quarter, reflecting higher operating expenses. Those higher programming and production expenses reflected an increase in television series production, as well as higher advertising, marketing and promotion expenses as theatrical releases returned.

In addition to F9, the quarter’s other major release was a sequel to animated hit Boss Baby, with the day-and-date release in theaters and on Peacock breaking ground for the company. Early in the pandemic, Universal incurred the wrath of theater owners by releasing several films on premium video on demand, or PVOD, but Boss Baby 2 was the first to go via Peacock.

At Comcast Cable, the numbers followed a familiar pattern. Total broadband customer net additions were 354,000, while total video customer net losses were 399,000. The video decline was less severe than analysts had predicted.