Comcast Q2 Earnings Call: Universal Acknowledges Plans for New Florida Theme Park

Brian L. Roberts reflects on bidding war with Disney for Fox — it just got too pricey

Harry Potter Flight of the Hippogriff Ride
Universal Studios

Universal has finally publicly acknowledged that it is “looking at” opening another theme park in the Orlando, Florida area.

“In terms of as a new gate in Florida, we are looking at it. We filed, basically, a name registration,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said Thursday morning on a conference call with media analysts and press. “We have a lot of great I.P. We love the theme park business, it’s one of our best, most-consistent businesses, and we think we have a very long runway.”

“Another gate in Florida would have the advantage of turning Florida from a two- or three-day destination to potentially a week-long destination,” he continued. “We think that that would be attractive.”

In June, Universal trademarked the name “Fantastic Worlds” for use in amusement parks, which led to wild speculation. Well, now we have at least some official information.

A few minutes later on the same call, which accompanied Comcast’s second-quarter 2018 earnings, Roberts spoke to the Fox bidding war that it recently ceded to Disney. The price tag just got too high, he said.

“In the case of Fox — it was a unique opportunity,” the Comcast chairman and CEO said. “We were very disciplined in our approach to it, but we thought it was mostly about [an] international expansion opportunity. We had regulatory belief that it was approvable in the United States. In fact, we’ve had conversations that were going well.”

“But ultimately we pulled back because we thought that we couldn’t build enough shareholder value by making the price at which it seemed in our judgment to be possible to buy it at — which was increasing,” he continued.

Earlier on Thursday, Comcast revealed its second-quarter 2018 earnings results. The publicly traded corporation beat media analysts’ consensus forecast in earnings per share (EPS), but missed the mark in terms of revenue. Wall Street was pretty pleased with that trade-off, and Comcast stock is currently trading up almost 3.5 percent pre-market.