Comcast Edge Wall Street Q1 Estimates; Peacock reaches 34 million subscribers and keeps cutting losses

Updated with executive comments. In the nearly four years since NBCUniversal's flagship streaming channel Peacock launched, Comcast President Mike Kavanagh says the service is “seeing traction” with its mix of entertainment and sports.

The CEO delivered the commentary to Wall Street analysts after Comcast reported strong first-quarter financial results, including Peacock revenue of $1.1 billion, lower losses and subscriber counts of 34 million.

When asked about Peacock's original expectations for content spending, Cavanagh answered qualitatively rather than quantitatively.

“I think you can expect to see us take a very broad approach,” he said, without providing any specific numbers. Sports and entertainment “interact well with each other” in Peacock, he said. He indicated an escape Ted And Traitors Season 2 in the first quarter, which coincided with a live broadcast of an NFL playoff game.

“It's sports, it's original, it's next-day NBC content, it's our library and our pay-for-1 movies,” Kavanagh said in describing Peacock Recipe. The April-June quarter will be “a little lighter in terms of our content cadence,” he advised. “But when we look at the middle of the year, we have the Olympics, and right after that we have the return of the NFL, the Big Ten and our exclusive NFL game in Sao Paulo, Brazil, along with a great movie. Slate – victim, Tornadoes, Despicable me 4 plus Kung Fu Panda 4″ arrives as a peacock. As was the case in 2020, Kavanagh summed up, Peacock's mission is “to move our current strengths and assets into the digital future.”

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Comcast reported first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations, with Peacock reaching 34 million subscribers but reporting higher programming costs.

Total revenue rose 1% to $30.1 billion, with adjusted earnings per share coming in at $1.04, compared to 92 cents in the year-ago period.

The media division, which includes NBCUniversal and streaming company Peacock, had revenue increase nearly 4% to $6.4 billion. But higher operating expenses, particularly higher programming expenses at Peacock, contributed to higher losses. Adjusted EBITDA, a key measure of profitability, fell 6% to $827 million.

Peacock achieved revenues of $1.1 billion, an increase of 54% over last year, with losses shrinking to $639 million from $704 million a year ago. The earnings release did not provide details about the higher programming costs, but in January, Peacock showed an NFL Wild Card playoff game, which was acquired in a rights deal separate from NBCU's long-term rights agreement with the league.

Native advertising revenue remained flat at $2.025 billion, primarily due to lower revenues in the company's linear networks, offset by increased Peacock revenues.

Revenues in the studio division fell 7% to $2.7 billion, and profits fell 12% although theatrical revenues were strong thanks to Kung Fu Panda 4 And Immigration. Content licensing revenues declined during this period, primarily due to the timing of theatrical titles arriving in other windows.

Outcomes from the company's studios, media holdings and theme parks are now reported as content and experiences. Content and experiences revenue increased 1% to $10.4 billion, while adjusted EBITDA decreased 7% to $1.5 billion. The 1.5% increase in theme park revenues was offset by a negative foreign currency impact.

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On the pay TV and broadband side of the company, video losses continued their steady decline, with 487,000 residential video customers lost in the period.

More is coming …

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