By Helen Coster and Eva Mathews
(Reuters) -Comcast Corp’s first-quarter revenue beat Wall Street expectations on Thursday, as the media giant benefited from its broadcasts of the Super Bowl and Beijing Olympics, as well as a rebound in theme park attendance.
Total revenue rose 14% to $31.01 billion in the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of $30.53 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, gained 262,000 broadband customers in the quarter, compared with Factset estimates of 229,000.
Broadband subscriber growth slumped 43.1% from a year ago, the third consecutive quarter of subscriber declines after record growth during the pandemic. The company has attributed the slowdown, in part, to fewer people changing homes.
Revenue at Comcast’s NBCUniversal media unit rose 36.3% to $6.87 billion, including $1.48 billion in revenue from broadcasting the Super Bowl and Beijing Olympics.
NBCU advertising sales jumped 59.2%, benefiting from the sporting events as well as the growth of the Peacock streaming service.
Peacock added 4 million paid subscribers in the quarter, bringing total paid subscribers to 13 million. In a call with investors Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts said the company does not anticipate seeing that type of growth every quarter.
NBCUniversal’s media division results included $472 million of revenue and an adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) loss of $456 million related to Peacock, “including amounts attributable to the 2022 Beijing Olympics and the NFL’s Super Bowl,” compared to $91 million of revenue and an adjusted EBITDA loss of $277 million a year earlier.
NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast attracted an average television audience of about 101 million viewers, roughly 10% above the 2021 championship, according to Nielsen data, with ad rates up 18% over ad rates for the 2021 game.
Yet the Winter Olympics in Beijing attracted the smallest prime-time audience since NBCUniversal began broadcasting the games, amid a period of changing TV-viewing habits.
Net income attributable to Comcast rose to $3.55 billion, or 78 cents per share, from $3.33 billion, or 71 cents per share, a year earlier.
Comcast shares were trading down 3.37% at $42.95.
(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Bernadette Baum and David Evans)
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