The second quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the United States and beyond, was not a good one for theme parks or movie theaters. Today was Comcast’s turn to reveal just how hard hit its Universal locations — and film group — were in Q2.
Revenue at Comcast’s Universal theme parks plummeted by 94.1% in the quarter ended June 30, 2020, the company said on Thursday. The box office fared even worse, with theatrical revenue dropping 96.8%.
Overall, NBCUniversal’s revenue sunk 25.4% with filmed entertainment declining 18.1% and cable TV dropping 14.7%.
The company’s cable communications business was essentially flat year to year. Comcast lost 477,000 net TV subscribers in the quarter.
Advertising revenue at NBCU’s cable television fell 27% from the comparable quarter last year. Distribution revenue declined 14.8% due to cord cutting and a lack of professional sports at RSNs (Regional Sports Networks). Fortunately, some Peacock transactions helped lift content licensing by 23.1%, partially offsetting the negatives.
At NBC’s broadcast channel, the advertising decline was 27.9% as TV ratings continued to decrease and sports sat on the bench. There, Peacock drove content licensing revenue up 58.5%.
To-date (so beyond the earnings cutoff), NBCUniversal’s free streaming service Peacock has exceeded 10 million subscribers.
Content licensing also grew at Comcast’s filmed entertainment segment, with a 19.5% uptick being mostly credited to the on-demand releases of “Trolls World Tour” and “The King of Staten Island.”
Elsewhere, Sky revenue fell 15.5%.
There was some reason for optimism amid the bad news — namely, that Comcast did better than Wall Street’s tempered expectations predicted.
Wall Street forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 55 cents on $23.57 billion in revenue, according to a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance. The NBCUniversal parent company reported adjusted EPS of 69 cents on $23.715 billion in revenue.
Both of those reported figures were double digit decreases on a percentage basis from Q2 2019.
Most media companies were financially rocked in the second quarter of 2020, which is when the greatest impact (thus far, at least) of the coronavirus shutdown was felt.
NBCUniversal launched its new streaming service Peacock exclusively for Comcast and Cox subscribers on April 15. The platform rolled out nationwide July 15.
“Our response to COVID-19 has been extraordinarily fast and effective, and our products and brands continue to resonate strongly with our customers across all segments and all geographies. The solid results that we delivered in the quarter highlight the resilience of our company,” Brian L. Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corporation, said in a statement prepared to accompany the financials. “Cable delivered record second quarter customer relationship net adds, driven by the best second quarter high-speed internet net adds in 13 years. NBCUniversal successfully launched Peacock in Cable’s footprint in April, ahead of the streaming service’s U.S. nationwide launch earlier this month, with 10 million sign-ups to date.”
“NBCUniversal also just recently announced a deal with AMC Theatres in the U.S. that allows Universal to release titles across PVOD platforms after a 17-day exclusive theatrical window,” he continued. “At Sky, our flexible strategy helped retain customers until key sports returned in May and June. Overall, based on our results and the many organic growth opportunities that we have across our company, I am confident in our ability to continue to successfully navigate the impact of COVID-19, and emerge from the crisis even stronger. I could not be more proud of how our teams across Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky are together managing the business.”
Comcast stock closed Wednesday at $43.90 per share. The regular U.S. stock markets will reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET.
Roberts and other Comcast executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.