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Film, Content Licensing and Theme Parks Drive Strong Comcast Q1 Earnings

Variety logo Variety 4/27/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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Comcast Corp. had the wind at its back in the first-quarter, delivering earnings and revenue that blew past analysts expectations thanks in part to big contributions from NBCUniversal’s film studio, cable content licensing and theme parks.

Comcast logged earnings per share of 53 cents, a 23.3% year-over-year increase that handily topped the consensus estimate of 43-44 cents per share. Revenue came in at $20.46 billion, an 8.9% spike that topped the consensus estimate of $20.12 billion.

NBCUniversal posted a 14.7% gain in revenue to $7.9 billion with all divisions delivering solid results for the quarter. Adjusted earnings came in at $2 billion, up 24.4%.

The film division was buoyed by a 43.2% hike to $2 billion, thanks to the inclusion of DreamWorks Animation and the strong box office performance of “Get Out,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” “Split” and “Sing.” Adjusted earnings grew to $368 million.

NBCU’s cable networks saw revenue climb 7.6% to $2.6 billion with adjusted earnings of $1.1 billion, up 16.8%. Content licensing revenue grew a whopping 54%. Advertising revenue was once again a weak spot, declining 2.9%.

Broadcast TV also reflected the softness in advertising. NBC and Telemundo saw a mere 0.3% gain in advertising revenue for the quarter. Overall, broadcast grew 5.9% to $2.2 billion, powered by higher retransmission consent fees. Adjusted earnings were up 13.4% to $322 million.

Theme parks saw a 9% rise in revenue to $1.1 billion, even as the later timing of this year’s spring break made for tougher year-to-year comparisons.

On the MVPD side of Comcast, cable revenue was up 5.8% to $12.9 billion. Adjusted earnings increased 6.3% to $5.19 billion. The division garnered a net gain of 42,000 new video subscribers and 429,000 new broadband subscribers.

“2017 is off to the fastest start in five years,” Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts said. “We are reporting outstanding growth at Cable and particularly NBCUniversal, which delivered 14.7% revenue growth and 24.4% Adjusted EBITDA growth. These impressive results were fueled by exceptionally strong film performance, increased affiliate and retransmission revenues at our TV businesses, and continued growth in Theme Parks. Cable operations had a terrific quarter, driven by strength in high-speed Internet and business services revenue growth, as well as positive video, all highlighted by overall customer relationship net additions of 297,000, a 10% increase compared to last year. These results were balanced with financial discipline, which contributed to solid revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth.”

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