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Comcast narrowed video losses, raked in a big profit, and struck a deal to buy the rest of NBCU for $16.7 billion. All in a day's work...

Comcast Whiffs on Video Subs But Scores NBCU

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. came this close to reversing video subscriber losses during its fourth quarter, but it still shed 7,000 of them. On the plus side, the company struck an early deal to acquire the rest of the NBCUniversal LLC joint venture from General Electric for about $16.7 billion. First, that subscriber number, which came out with Comcast's earnings Tuesday. It improved on the 17,000 video subs the operator lost in the year-ago quarter, marking the ninth straight quarter of improvements in the troublesome category. Comcast ended 2012 with 21.99 million video subs. Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told the Associated Press that the MSO would have added video subs in the quarter if it weren't for Superstorm Sandy. Comcast also improved in other key subscriber categories. It added 341,000 high-speed Internet subs in the fourth quarter, extending that total to 19.36 million, and signed on 168,000 voice customers, giving it a total of 9.95 million. On the financial end, Comcast posted a fourth quarter profit of $1.52 billion (56 cents per share) on revenues of $15.94 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of 53 cents per share on revenues of $16 billion. Comcast business services revenues for 2012 rose 34.2 percent, to $2.4 billion. On the flip side, Comcast's expansion of business services and its continued network investments caused capex to rise $115 million, or 2.4 percent, to $4.9 billion for year. Earnings were just part of Comcast's busy Tuesday afternoon, as it also announced that it will acquire GE's 49 percent equity stake in NBCU, almost a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. Comcast struck its original deal for NBCU on Dec. 3, 2009. (See Comcast to Take Control of NBC Universal.) NBCU is also buying from GE the properties the media giant is using at the fabled "30 Rock" building in New York City, and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for $1.4 billion. Comcast is funding all of this with $11.4 billion in cash, $4 billion of subsidiary senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2 billion of borrowings under Comcast and/or subsidiary bank credit facilities, and $725 million of subsidiary preferred stock to be issued to GE. Comcast shares were up $2.63 (6.75 percent) to $41.60 in after-hours trading Tuesday. — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/14/2013 | 11:01:02 AM
re: Comcast Whiffs on Video Subs But Scores NBCU
Yes, they did mention some decent results with triple play, which was needed, because cable voice growth has been low on steam lately. But the Xfinity Home product offers some possible upside even if its impact is not that great yet.-á On the call,-áComcast acknowledgd that the numbers are still fairly small, but said 76% of those subs are "quad-play," 22% are new to Comcast, and 73% come in buying all four products (voice, video, data and-áhome security/automation).-á-áYes, with the VZ Wireless partnership we are up to-áa-áfive-service bundle. JB
User Rank: Blogger
2/13/2013 | 5:32:00 PM
re: Comcast Whiffs on Video Subs But Scores NBCU
Growth of voice service was a surprise, and now Comcast has over 10 million phone customers. With everyone jumping to smartphones, you'd think MSOs would be losing phone subs. But apparently there's still life in the Triple Play.

Interesting to hear how Comcast defines a Quad Play these days. Xfinity Home, the MSO's smart-home security service, is getting called the 4th service, whereas telcos include mobile phone for their Quad Play. So if Comcast adds wireless or another service, does that mean we go to a Quint Play??
Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/13/2013 | 1:02:09 PM
re: Comcast Whiffs on Video Subs But Scores NBCU
Well, *whiff* might be a little strong considering how many video subs Comcast had been losing and other operators, including TW Cable continue to lose, but Comcast still did miss what analysts were anticipating, apparently because of the storm.
ISI's Vijay Jayant issued a note last night that he was expecting Comcast to add 7K video subs, while the 341K high speed sub add were-á8K below estimates. Voice adds beat his expectations by 33K, so that was a surprise. JB
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