NBCUniversal Second-Quarter Profit Rises Driven by 'Jurassic World,' 'Furious 7'

NBC
NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke

Cable giant Comcast reported results for its entertainment arm and now has more broadband than pay TV subscribers.

Cable giant Comcast on Thursday reported second-quarter financials, including improved profitability figures for its entertainment arm NBCUniversal, driven by the box-office success of Jurassic World, Pitch Perfect 2 and Furious 7 as well as strength in theme parks.

The entertainment company, led by CEO Steve Burke, recorded second-quarter revenue of $7.2 billion and operating cash flow, the profitability metric it uses, of $1.7 billion, and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts raved about the unit during a conference call with analysts on Thursday.

Roberts boasted that Universal Pictures has already set an annual record this year, surpassing its box-office haul from 2013, its previous best year in history. Jurassic World is the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, and Furious 7 is the fifth-highest-grossing.

In television, sports were a boon in the quarter and Roberts touted the popularity of Mr. Robot, the new TV show on the conglomerate's USA cable network.

"NBC won the 2014-2015 broadcast season for adults 18-49. Our teams are executing incredibly well across our strong and diversified portfolio, and I am excited for what we can deliver in the rest of 2015 and beyond," Roberts said.

Turning to theme parks, Roberts called the performance "stellar," in part due to the popularity of the Harry Potter attraction in Florida. He remains bullish on the division because of the enthusiastic reception to the just-launched Furious 7 attraction in California, plus there's a Harry Potter attraction due next year in California and also a "fantastic" King Kong attraction set to open in Florida.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, on Thursday said its quarterly broadband subscriber figures for the first time topped pay TV user numbers. Comcast ended June with 22.306 million video subscribers and 22.548 million broadband subscribers.

Video net losses of 69,000 were the best result for a second quarter in nine years. In the year-ago period, the firm had lost 144,000 video subscribers. It added 180,000 broadband and 49,000 telephone customers, compared with 203,000 and 137,000, respectively, in the year-ago period.

Comcast reported earnings of $2.14 billion, up 7.3 percent from the year-ago period, as revenue rose 11.3 percent to $18.74 billion. Revenue exceeded expectations, while earnings were in line with Wall Street forecasts. 

Revenue for NBCU jumped 20 percent as operating cash flow increased 19 percent.

Quarterly film revenue surged 93 percent to $2.3 billion, fueling an operating cash flow increase of 117 percent to $422 million. 

Second-quarter broadcast TV revenue was about flat at $1.8 billion, reflecting a slight increase in advertising revenue and higher retransmission consent fees that were offset by lower content licensing revenue. Operating cash flow for broadcast TV dropped 4 percent to $231 million, reflecting increases in operating expenses.

Cable networks revenue decreased 1 percent to $2.5 billion and operating cash flow fell 5 percent to $872 million. 

Theme parks revenue rose 26 percent to $773 million and operating cash flow rose 45 percent to $354 million, and Roberts said the unit will be a major driver of growth for a decade or more. 

Analysts appeared mostly bullish on Comcast's financials and in early trading on Thursday the stock was up 1 percent to $64.50.

Twitter: @georgszalai

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