Comcast first-quarter broadband growth tops views, coronavirus hurts advertising

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

(Reuters) – Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) on Thursday reported its best quarter of broadband net additions in 12 years, but revenue fell shy of Wall Street’s estimate as the coronavirus pandemic hurt advertising.

In the first quarter, Comcast gained 477,000 broadband subscribers, beating analysts’ average estimate of 364,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet. Revenue from the business grew 9.3% to $5 billion.

Comcast experienced a spike in broadband use and a shift in usage patterns as schools and offices closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The company has said its network has had enough capacity to manage those changes.

Video losses in the first quarter were steeper than expected as the trend toward “cord-cutting” continues. Comcast lost 409,000 video customers, more than the 261,000 loss estimated by FactSet and more than the 149,000 video customers it lost in the fourth quarter.

The company has been focused on attracting high-margin broadband customers to offset cord-cutting, as viewers who stream TV and film require a broadband connection to do so.

Comcast reported first-quarter revenue of $26.61 billion, missing the Wall Street consensus estimate of $26.75 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

British pay-TV group Sky, which had early exposure to the coronavirus in Europe, generated first-quarter revenue of $4.52 billion, missing the average estimate of $4.81 billion.

For the first quarter, Comcast’s NBCUniversal segment, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $7.73 billion, down 7% from a year earlier. Revenue at the filmed entertainment unit fell 22.5% from the same quarter a year earlier; revenue at theme parks, which like movie theaters were shuttered for part of the quarter due to the coronavirus, fell 31.9%. Broadcast television revenue was up 8.8%.

Net income attributable to Comcast fell to $2.15 billion, or 46 cents per share, from $3.55 billion, or 77 cents per share, a year earlier.

Reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Additional reporting by Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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