After the company reports net loss of 45,000 cable subs in the second quarter, Comcast’s Steve Burke dismissed online streaming services, also known as virtual MVPDs, as immaterial. It’s a “a very tough business,” he said. “We are skeptical that it’s going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it.”
(Satellite Business News) — Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, announced yesterday it lost 45,000 net residential video customers in the second quarter of this year.
The company said it ended the second quarter with 21.475 million consumers subscribing to its cable services. In last year’s second quarter, Comcast lost only 21,000 net consumer video subscribers. But the company’s residential high-speed Internet service continued to show growth.
Comcast said it added 140,000 net subscribers to that service in this year’s second quarter, which was down from the 176,000 net subscribers to the high-speed Internet service for the same period last year. Comcast said it ended the second quarter with 25.306 million consumer and business high-speed Internet customers.
During a conference call yesterday with analysts, Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts said, according to a company transcript, the company “had an excellent second quarter.” Roberts described the cable subscriber results as “a model of consistency for us and the second quarter was no different.”
Moving forward, he added, “we see so many opportunities for continued growth in our cable business with significant runway ahead in [high-speed Internet], robust growth in business services, attractive opportunities driven by our differentiated approach to video and upside in newer offerings” such as the company’s latest cable set-top box.
Steve Burke, who runs Comcast’s NBC and other programming businesses, downplayed the impact new on-line video services were having on the company’s overall business. Those new “services that have been launched so far [are] doing about as we expected they would do and that is … they are no all that material to our business. They’ve all launched, they have subscribers. We have [programming distribution] deals in place with all of them, they are actually very favorable.”
But Burke argued the on-line segment is “a very tough business. And, as we’ve said before, we are skeptical that it’s going to be a very large business or profitable business for the people that are in it and they are off to a relatively slow start. In terms of overall subscriber trends, they are about the same as they have been.” Roberts, not surprisingly, offered no new insight on the endless talk about Comcast buying or merging with another company, particularly in the wireless industry.
As reported, Comcast and Charter, the country’s second biggest cable operator, are working together in the wireless space and are negotiating with Sprint about a possible deal. But Roberts was only asked one question on the subject, and went out of his way to talk around the issue rather than be specific.
Comcast “always look[s] at the world around us” and while it is “looking at opportunities,” Roberts said, “we really feel we are not missing anything.” The wireless industry is a “tough business,” he added, noting Comcast was so far pleased with the rollout of its own wireless service that employs Verizon’s network.
“I think we have a really special company, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to change that,” Roberts said. Roberts pointed to Comcast’s overall financial results as evidence of that. In the second quarter, Comcast reported “consolidated revenue” of $21.165 billion, which it said was as 9.8 percent increase over the same period last year. For the year so far, Comcast said its consolidated revenue was $21,628 billion, a 9.4 increase as compared to the first six months of 2016. The company said its “net income attributable to Comcast” grew year-over-year by 23.9 percent to $2.512 billion in the quarter.
For the six month period, Comcast reported little more than $5 billion for that metric, which it said was a 22 percent increase compared to last year’s first six months. The company said its profits were driven in the quarter by its programming business — which includes NBC and its national networks, its movie box office results, and the revenue from its amusement parks.
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