Comcast hit by coronavirus-related declines at NBCUniversal

Comcast said its second-quarter revenue slumped 12 percent as the impact of the coronavirus squeezed its NBCUniversal entertainment division.

The Philadelphia-based cable-TV giant had some bright spots in the quarter — namely an uptick in internet customers and the launch of streaming service Peacock, which has garnered 10 million sign-ups since April, even as cord-cutting continues to slam Comcast’s core business.

Nevertheless, revenue its NBCU unit plunged 25.4 percent to $6.1 billion, with its theme parks suffering a 94-percent revenue drop. While Universal Studios’ Orlando and Japan theme parks have been open since June, the Hollywood location has yet to reopen.

Meanwhile, advertising revenue at NBCU’s cable networks and broadcast-television units fell by 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively.

NBCU Chief Executive Jeff Shell is hoping his firm’s deal with AMC Theatres, which will allow it to bring its movies to streaming services after 17 days, will give it a much-needed cash infusion.

Shell said Thursday that the deal, which shortens the theatrical window from three months to under three weeks, will benefit his company even after the pandemic is over.

“We’ve always believed there’s a growing segment of the population who don’t go to movie theaters,” Shell said.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts echoed that both Peacock and the AMC deal shows how his “company is really trying to lean into streaming,” as more consumers cut their cable services.

Indeed, during the quarter, Roberts said Comcast’s core cable systems continued to lose pay-TV subscribers, but delivered a strong uptick in internet customers.

The firm added 323,000 high-speed internet customers, but lost 477,000 pay TV customers during the quarter compared with a loss of 224,000 in the same period of 2019.

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Coronavirus-related theme park closures, TV and film production delays and a pullback in advertising spend caused Comcast’s revenue for the period ended June 30 to fall 11.7 percent to $23.72 billion from $26.86 a year earlier. Net income slid 4.4 percent to $3 billion or 65 cents a share from year-ago profit of $3.12 billion or 68 cents.


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