Comcast succumbed to secular cord cutting trends again during the second quarter but still managed to grow key financial metrics within its cable communications business.
Comcast lost 224,000 video subscribers (209,000 residential and 15,000 business) during the quarter. The losses brought its video subscriber total down to 21.64 million and officially dropped its amount of business services video customers to fewer than one million.
Yet the company’s cable revenues grew 3.9% during the quarter, up to $14.45 billion. Video revenues fell slightly by 0.6% to $5.59 billion but that was more than offset by a 9.4% increase in broadband revenues, which jumped to $4.66 billion. Comcast said video revenues stayed mostly flat with a mixture of fewer residential subscribers but higher rates.
The segment’s wireless and business revenues also continued to grow at a fast pace, up 21% and 9.8% respectively during the quarter.
Adjusted earnings for the segment rose 7.4% to $5.85 billion.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit reported revenues up just 0.8% to $8.2 billion during the quarter as growth in cable and broadcast television couldn’t stay ahead of a 14.8% decrease in filmed entertainment.
At cable networks, distribution revenue increased 3.4% thanks to contractual rate increases that were partially offset by a decline in subscribers; content licensing and other revenue increased 5.1% thanks to the timing of some licensing agreements; and advertising revenue was flat due higher rates offset by audience ratings declines. Adjusted EBITDA increased 2.2% to $1.2 billion in the second quarter.
At broadcast television revenue increased 0.5% thanks increased distribution and other revenue, partially offset by a decrease in advertising and content licensing revenue. Advertising revenue fell 4.2% primarily due to the absence of revenue generated by Telemundo's broadcast of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. But higher retransmission fees helped drive up distribution and other revenue by 14.7%, which in turn boosted adjusted earnings by 28.3% to $534 million in the second quarter.