Comcast beats revenue expectations as broadband growth offsets pandemic hit

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp CMCSA.O on Thursday reported second-quarter revenue that beat expectations, as strong sign-ups for broadband offset weaker advertising sales at cable networks and broadcast TV.

FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

“The company is really trying to lean into streaming,” said Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts on the earnings call. Roberts also said the pandemic “feels like a new normal, at least for the balance of this year.”

Shares were marginally down in the early trade. Excluding items, the company earned $0.69 per share, above analysts’ estimates of $0.55 per share.

In the three months, Comcast gained 323,000 broadband subscribers, beating analysts’ average estimate of 247,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal segment, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $6.12 billion, down 25.4% from a year earlier. Revenue at the filmed entertainment unit fell 18.1% from a year earlier due to shuttered movie theaters. Theme park revenue plummeted 94.1%.

Broadcast TV advertising revenue was down 27.9% and ad revenue at Comcast’s cable networks fell 27%.

The company said it had 10 million signups to its Peacock streaming service, launched nationwide on July 15.

On Tuesday, Comcast and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc AMC.N announced a deal that will allow Universal Pictures’ movies to be made available to U.S. audiences at home after three weekends in cinemas - a model that upends the traditional practice of keeping a movie in theaters for 90 days before releasing it on other platforms.

Comcast lost 477,000 video customers in the quarter, fewer than the 513,000 loss estimated by FactSet and more than the 409,000 video customers it lost in the first quarter.

Comcast reported second-quarter revenue of $23.72 billion, beating the Wall Street consensus estimate of $23.57 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Helen Coster in New York. Additional reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio and Bernadette Baum