‘Get Out,’ ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Help Power NBCU Parent Comcast to Strong Q1

Broadcast and cable also chipped in with higher distribution and content licensing revenue


Comcast is off to a strong start in 2017, thanks in large part to its better box office beginning.

The NBCUniversal parent company topped media analyst’s expectations for the first-quarter of the year, with a big nod going to Filmed Entertainment’s 43.2 percent revenue growth. Leading the way to the segment’s $2 billion total were the theatrical performances of “Get Out,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” “Split” and “Sing.”

The small-screen also chipped in, with Cable Networks revenue increasing 7.6 percent (to $2.6 billion) versus the comparable quarter in 2016, while Broadcast rose 5.9 percent (to $2.2 billion). Higher distribution and content licensing revenue were the main sources of more income there. Advertising revenue slipped on cable, though they ticked up a hair on broadcast, where NBC is once-again leading the pack in terms of Nielsen TV Ratings.

Meanwhile, Theme Parks revenue increased 9 percent to $1.1 billion, reflecting higher attendance and per capita spending. There were some increased pre-opening costs on new attractions opening soon in Orlando to overcome from the relatively modest cash contributor.

Of course, Cable Communications is still Comcast’s biggest attraction, which could make or break a quarter. Fortunately for investors, that monster unit’s revenue jumped 5.8 percent to $12.9 billion, with solid increases in both Internet and Video. Total Customer Relationships increased by 297,000 to 28.9 million.

All told, Comcast reported overall earnings per share of 53 cents on $20.46 billion in revenue. Wall Street had forecast earnings per share of 44 cents on $20.12 billion in revenue, per a Yahoo Finance poll.

Those two victories have made Brian Roberts’ day — or really, his three months.

The chairman and CEO said the following in prepared remarks:
“2017 is off to the fastest start in five years. We are reporting outstanding growth at Cable and particularly NBCUniversal, which delivered 14.7 percent revenue growth and 24.4 percent 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 percent increase compared to last year.”

“These results were balanced with financial discipline, which contributed to solid revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth,” he continued. “The transition from Neil Smit to Dave Watson has gotten off to a very successful and seamless start, and with our teams executing well across all of Comcast NBCUniversal, I am excited about our momentum headed into the rest of 2017 and beyond.”

CMCSA stock closed Wednesday at $38.78, up 30 cents per share. The trading price doubled-up on that growth after-hours.

The U.S. stock markets will reopen this morning at 9:30 a.m. ET. An hour earlier, Comcast executives will host a conference call to discuss their quarter in greater detail.

Expect a little extra pep in Roberts’ voice this time — heck, he’s earned it.