Comcast Revenues Up 11 Percent but Cable Subscriptions Down 48,000 in Q3

Minions, Jurassic World had record-breaking box-office performance.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Comcast revenue increased 11.2 percent, cash flow was up 8.4 percent and operating income increased 6.9 percent in third-quarter earnings released Tuesday morning.

But cable subscriptions are still suffering from increased competition from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Comcast lost 48,000 customers in the quarter — but that’s a 41 percent improvement from the third quarter of 2014, and the best third-quarter result in nine years, the company reported. (It lost 69,000 subscribers in Q2.) Perhaps that’s a testament to the strength of the modernized X1 operating system — now in the hands of 25 percent of Comcast video customers.

Comcast added 320,000 high-speed Internet customers in the quarter — the best Q3 result in six years. Revenue in that sector grew 10.2 percent.

But a big driver of revenues has been NBCUniversal, which has been releasing hit movie after hit movie this year — like Minions and Jurassic World in Q3. After what CEO Brian Roberts said in statement was “another record-breaking box office quarter,” the movie studio saw revenues increase 64 percent to $1.9 billion in the quarter (up from $1.2 billion in Q3 of 2014.)

Comcast’s business services continued its impressive growth, seeing revenues increase by 19.5 percent in the quarter. That’s makes it the second-largest contributor to cable revenue growth for 18 of the last 19 quarters.

Meanwhile, Comcast’s cable networks segment saw revenues increase 7 percent in the third quarter to $2.4 billion, up from $2.3 billion in Q3 of 2014. That was driven by an 8.6 percent increase in distribution revenue. Revenues at its broadcast television segment increased 11.3 percent to 2 billion — up from 1.8 billion in Q3 of 2014.

Comcast saw “the highest summer attendance ever at our theme parks,” said Roberts. That led to third-quarter revenue of $896 million, up 14.1 percent from Q3 of 2014. That growth was led by Orlando’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, and Fast and Furious: Supercharged at the Hollywood park.

Comcast is reportedly in talks to add another business line to its portfolio — cell phone service. Comcast has notified Verizon of its intent to resell cellular service using the carrier’s network, according to multiple news outlets. In a $3.6 billion deal struck in 2012, Comcast and other cable companies sold Verizon spectrum licenses and received the right to resell wireless services in return. That could mean Comcast would offer a hybrid cellular and Wi-Fi service, using Verizon’s network and Wi-Fi hotspots. Perhaps we’ll learn more during Comcast’s earnings call which begins at 8:30 a.m.