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NEW YORK – A holiday season trip with his family gave Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts positive impressions of NBC Universal’s theme parks business, he told an investor conference on Wednesday.
“Over this Christmas holiday, I took my kids to Universal theme parks, and it was mobbed,” he told the Citi conference in Phoenix in a session that was webcast. “I think they are up tremendously due to [The Wizarding World of] Harry Potter [at Universal Orlando] and great execution at theme parks.”
While giving no update on the regulatory review, which is expected to conclude within weeks, Roberts reiterated that he feels good about the planned acquisition of a majority stake in NBC Uni and is “very pleased” with trends at the entertainment company.
Almost every part of company has some positive momentum, including the “worldwide bonanza” Universal Pictures had with animation hit Despicable Me, but also upside opportunity, particularly at the NBC network, he said.
Asked about his take on Wall Street’s view of the deal, Roberts highlighted that the cable giant’s stock has traded at a discount to peers amid fears. “We are still in a show-me mode,” but that’s fine and an opportunity, he told the investor conference.
Importantly, owning both strong content and distribution assets allows the company “to innovate faster,” Roberts said, highlighting that the company has 1,000 software engineers working on digital media.
He highlighted that Comcast’s plan for in-home live TV streaming and its latest updates to an application for iPads and other tablets, announced earlier on Wednesday, amount to major innovations and improve the current consumer experience “by a quantum leap.” The app has been downloaded 750,000 times to-date, he said.
Roberts also touted Comcast’s on demand offers, saying that the firm has since its on demand launch received 18 billion on demand program orders.
Roberts also once again downplayed the impact of cable subscriber losses in recent quarters, which some have worried will lead to a longer-term cord cutting trend. The Comcast CEO signalled that subscriber momentum in the fourth quarter of 2010 improved and said: “We are comfortable that the business is still growing and robust.”
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