Philadelphia-headquartered Comcast reported a rise in earnings through the fourth quarter of 2020 despite the enduring pandemic, as gains in its cable revenues and subscribers to its Peacock streaming service showed signs of continued growth.
The telecommunications conglomerate revealed its net income for the quarter rose US$3.38 billion (73 cents per share), a 6.9% increase from the year-ago period that brought in $3.16 billion.
Revenues for the quarter saw a slight dip of 2.4% down to $27.7 billion, while adjusted net income also saw a decrease, falling nearly 29% to $2.6 billion.
Comcast said that revenues for its NBCUniversal division had also been negatively impacted in the quarter, with an 18.1% decrease to $7.5 billion. For the 12 months that ended Dec. 31, 2020, revenues at NBCU saw a drop of 17.3% to $28.1 billion compared to last year’s results.
Revenues were also down across Comcast’s cable networks, broadcast television and filmed entertainment divisions.
Income at cable networks slid by 6.4% to $2.7 billion as advertising revenues also fell by 4.2%. The company attributed these missteps to lower content licensing, while decreases in programming and production expenses were driven primarily by reduced ad spend resulting from the delayed start of some professional sports seasons due to COVID-19.
Broadcast television revenues also dropped by double digits, decreasing by 12% to $2.8 billion. Content licensing revenues also dipped by 38.6%, which the company attributed to the timing of content provided under licensing agreements. Finally, ad revenues fell by 9.6% as a result of continued ratings declines which were impacted by the delay in broadcasting new series due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Local political advertising and higher pricing, however, partially offset these decreases.
Meanwhile, filmed entertainment experienced an 8% shrink in income, resulting in profits of $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter, primarily reflected in lower theatrical revenues and its movie ticketing, entertainment and live stage play businesses. Operating revenues, however, swelled 65.2% to $151 million as a result of lower revenues that were more than offset by lower operating costs due to a reduced number of theatrical releases.
Elsewhere, NBCUniversal’s nascent streaming service Peacock revealed that it had crossed the 33 million “sign-up” mark with five million new users signing up to the platform from across the U.S. since December 8, the last date figures were made available.
Peacock was launched in July 2020 and features two tiers: the ad-supported Peacock Premium for US$4.99/month, and the ad-free service Peacock Premium Plus, which is priced monthly at $9.99.