Comcast reported a revenue of $31.0 billion and an earnings per share (EPS) of 78 cents, seeing its earnings jump as a result of increased viewership of the Olympics and Super Bowl LVI, but it also logged an operation loss stemming from NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock to tune of $456 million, as per the media conglomerate’s first-quarter earnings report Thursday.
The numbers veered closely to analyst expectations via Yahoo Finance, which had a higher average estimate of 81 cents EPS on $30.54 billion for Q1. And compared to Q1 of 2021, earnings went up 9.9%, and revenue jumped 14% when it was at $27.2 billion.
Peacock’s operating loss for the quarter of $456 million was a result of the higher programming and production costs associated with the Super Bowl and the Olympics, Comcast said, though it reported revenue for $472 million. In the prior year, it reported $91 million of revenue and an adjusted loss of $277 million. On the earnings call, Comcast CEO and chairman Brian Roberts said the service had 28 million total active subscribers — with a 4 million increase in paid subscribers reaching 13 million.
“2022 is off to a great start. For the first quarter we reported healthy growth in adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS, generated significant free cash flow, and increased our return of capital to shareholders,” Roberts said Thursday. “We also continued to make important organic investments and strategic decisions, highlighted by yesterday’s announcement of our new joint venture with Charter. This partnership demonstrates the benefits of our focus on innovation and enables us to bring entertainment aggregation and streaming products that run off our global technology platform to millions more customers.”
NBCUniversal’s revenue in particular went up 46.6% to $10.3 billion quarter over quarter, but even excluding the Super Bowl and Olympics, the media unit still saw a growth of 36.3%, the studios unit went up 15.1%, and theme parks skyrocketed quarter over quarter 151.9% due to the parks operating at a lower capacity due to COVID. It reported $1.56 billion revenue from the various theme parks, which included the opening of the Universal Beijing Resort in China.
Studios revenue increased 15.1% to $2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2022. On the theatrical end, Universal Pictures’ “Sing 2” opened at the very tail end of last quarter but saw a solid chunk of its $405 million global box office come from money it brought in during 2022. Universal also released “The 355” ($14.5 million domestic) and “Redeeming Love” ($9.2 million domestic), as well as the Jennifer Lopez rom-com “Marry Me,” which made $22.4 million domestic but also opened theatrically on the same day it did on Peacock.
As for the aforementioned Peacock, the Olympics and the Super Bowl certainly helped, which Comcast said collectively were watched by 200 million people across NBC, Peacock and other platforms. But the streamer also had the new series “Bel-Air” debut inspired by the sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
By other sectors, Comcast’s cable communications revenue increased 4.7% to $16.5 billion in the first quarter of 2022, driven by increases in broadband, business services, wireless, advertising, and other revenue, partially offset by decreases in video and voice revenue, and total customer relationships increased by 194,000 to 34.4 million.
Revenue for the British media unit Sky also dipped slightly year over year, decreasing 4.5% to $4.8 billion, a result of a change in sports programming licensing agreements in Italy and Germany.