Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) Chairman-CEO Brian Roberts offered up possibly the best insight into what the nation's number one MSO has become when he told a first quarter earnings call, "We're also really pleased with our improving video results. In the first quarter we lost 39,000 video customers which is less than half of last year's first quarter."
You know you're doing well when you can watch 39,000 subscribers walk away and still report that first quarter results "mark a terrific start to 2011 (and) cable had an outstanding quarter." It helps when, as Comcast did, you can add 418,000 broadband subscribers and 260,000 voice customers and report that the business services revenues grew by almost 50 percent, as Roberts did.
The cable business, though, is only a part of Comcast. The service provider is now a programmer and that requires a different lens to filter results. On the NBCUniversal programming side, CEO Steve Burke faces challenges turning around a dismal broadcast property while investing in cable-based programming. And, of course, sports where NBC lost money on the Olympics in the past.
"We're in business to make money and our approach is going to be disciplined," Burke said during the earnings call. "There are a variety of ways you can make money--advertising or investing in a cable channel that would allow you to get increased advertising or increased affiliate fees--but at the end of the day we're not going to do anything that does not have a business plant that pencils out to a positive."
And, as far as making money is concerned, Burke quietly added, "I haven't even mentioned retransmission consent."
For those who like figures, Comcast said its revenues were up 12 percent to $12.1 billion, of which cable contributed $9.1 billion and its profit was $943 million.
It's unlikely, Roberts said in reply to a question, that Comcast will be looking to add to its cable business anytime soon.
"We have a lot on our plate," he said in something of an understatement. "I think we're very focused on what we've got."
- see this news release
- listen to the earnings webcast
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