Comcast’s quarterly revenue tops estimates on theme parks, advertising lift

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FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California
FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

July 29, 2021

By Eva Mathews and Helen Coster

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp’s second-quarter revenue beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday, as the media giant emerges from the pandemic, benefiting from higher ad sales and theme parks reopening.

The pandemic has created a distinction between digital businesses and those that are more reliant on in-person interactions. Comcast has a mix of both.

Total revenue rose 20.4% to $28.55 billion in the quarter, beating analysts’ estimates of $27.18 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company, which is the largest cable operator in the United States, lost 399,000 video customers in the most recent quarter, fewer than the 490,000 loss analysts expected.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal has aggressively pushed its digital platforms this year and views the Olympic Games as a vital driver of subscribers for its Peacock streaming service.

But with deep-pocketed rivals that entered the space earlier than Comcast, Peacock still faces a challenging road ahead.

NBC’s broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony drew 16.9 million viewers, the smallest U.S. television audience for the event in the past 33 years, according to Nielsen data provided by NBCUniversal. Both the average primetime TV audience and the total audience on TV and streaming combined for the subsequent four nights declined on every night except Sunday.

Mass vaccinations have also helped NBCUniversal’s theme parks, which have reopened. Theme parks revenue amounted to $1.1 billion during the quarter, versus just $136 million a year ago, when stay-at-home orders crippled the business.

Demand for Comcast’s wireless and internet services stayed strong as customers continued to work and learn from home. The company added 354,000 internet customers during the quarter, compared with Factset estimates of 272,000.

Universal’s big-budget action spectacle “F9” and animated feature “Boss Baby 2” bolstered NBC’s studios business, which had been hammered by COVID-related production delays and theater closures. Revenue rose 8.4% to $2.22 billion.

Comcast posted a nearly 33% rise in ad sales at NBCUniversal Media, with businesses getting back to spending after a year of slashed marketing budgets.

The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 84 cents in the second quarter, beating estimates of 67 cents.

Shares of Comcast rose 1.2% in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Helen Coster in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)