Comcast drives 10.7% revenue growth, 379K spike in high-speed internet customers

Comcast Center headquarters in Philadelphia. Image: Comcast
(Comcast)

Redeclaring itself a “connectivity business focused on broadband,” Comcast reported the addition of 379,000 new high-speed internet users in the first quarter, with overall revenue up 10.7% to $22.8 billion, driven primarily by a hot NBCUniversal division. 

The additions compare somewhat decently to the 430,000 broadband users added by the cable giant in the first quarter of 2017. Revenue from high-speed internet was up 8.2% to $4.2 billion. 

Comcast’s business services revenue was up 11.9% to $4.2 billion. 

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The gains in internet service provision came as Comcast lost another 93,000 video customers in the first quarter. The loss compared to the addition of 41,000 pay TV users in the first quarter of 2017. Revenue from video services was down 0.8% to $5.7 billion.

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Comcast’s video losses—and broadband gains—were both slightly higher than analysts’ consensus forecasts. “Total revenue of $22.8B (+11% reported growth) was in line with our $22.8B (+10% reported growth) and consensus at $22.8B (+11% reported growth),” Scotiabank analyst Jeff Fan wrote in a note to investors this morning. 

Connectivity first: “We continue to shift our focus to the connectivity business,” declared Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts, speaking during Wednesday’s earnings call. 

When Comcast sells service packages to customers, he said, “we lead with broadband and build out the package from there. … We’re going to continue to compete in video and see how things play out. But our focus has shifted to the connectivity business.”

“The cable segment continues to be driven by broadband and business which helped to offset video decline,” added Fan.

Strong Super Bowl and Olympics for NBCU: For the quarter, cable revenue increased by only 3.6%. The thriving NBCUniversal media division saw a 21.3% revenue spike, driven by boffo ratings and ad sales for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and Super Bowl LII.

“Results were in line at cable and slightly ahead at NBCU,” added New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin. 

Asked whether Comcast’s broadband business was reaching saturation, and if the company was concerned about the threat posed to wireline broadband by the emergence of 5G services, Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson noted that the business goes through competitive cycles. 

“Certainly, we saw that with AT&T moving most of their DSL footprint over,” Watson said. “Once these adjustments happen, you level off. We have great momentum. We really like the trajectory of our broadband business. We think there’s more room in share. … Our focus is to continue to build out our network.”