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Comcast’s TV Subscriber Losses Accelerate, But Earnings Rise

Signage is displayed in the window of a Comcast Corp. Xfinity store in King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. Comcast Corp. is scheduled to release earning figures on July 27. Photographer: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg

The traditional pay TV providers are competing with new, more affordable online channel bundles, as well as streaming services like Netflix Inc., which are luring away subscribers.

Despite such concerns, Comcast on Thursday reported higher-than-expected profits per share as well as adjusted revenue growth.

In the cable TV business, the company lost 125,000 residential and business customers, compared with a gain of 32,000 in the same quarter last year. In the second quarter, Comcast lost 34,000 residential and business video customers.

The company, like AT&T, believes the spate of major hurricanes in the quarter contributed to the subscriber losses.

Comcast and other cable providers stand to benefit on the internet access side of their business as streaming TV subscriptions and usage increase.

Comcast gained 214,000 internet customers in the quarter, down from the 330,000 gained in the year-ago period.

Total revenue per customer relationship increased 2.1% to $151.51.

Comcast lost 94,000 voice customers in the quarter, compared with an addition of 2,000 in the year-ago quarter.

Overall revenue for Comcast’s cable division, which makes up 62% of the top line, rose 5.1% to $13.2 billion.

This year Comcast launched a new wireless cellphone service, aimed at adding a fourth pillar to the typical television-phone-internet bundles. The mobile service is only for customers who subscribe to at least its internet service already. The cable operator is relying on a five-year-old network-resale agreement with Verizon Communications to offer its service.

Comcast has signaled that it views the wireless service as an add-on for its customers, aimed at increasing profits and reducing the percentage of customers leaving its service.

At the NBCUniversal media division, revenue and profits had tough comparisons to last year, when the company’s networks aired the 2016 Olympic Games. Revenue in the division fell 13% to $8.01 billion, with declines in both the broadcast television and cable networks divisions. When the impact of the Games was stripped out, revenue increased 6%.

Revenue in the filmed entertainment division fell 0.5% as there were no megahits in the quarter. Still, the company’s release of “Despicable Me 3” highlighted its focus on growing the size of its franchise business, which provides revenue beyond a movie’s theater run.

Theme parks revenue increased 7.7%, driven by new attractions in Japan and Orlando, Fla.

In all, net income rose to $2.65 billion, or 55 cents a share, up from $2.24 billion, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share came in at 52 cents.

Revenue fell 1.6% to $20.98 billion but adjusted revenue, excluding the impact of the Olympics, grew 5.8%.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters projected adjusted earnings of 50 cents a share on $21.04 billion in revenue.


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