July 27--Comcast Corp.'s second-quarter revenues rose a slim 2.8 percent and the company reported a modest drop in profits as its slate of Hollywood movies-rocket-fueled in 2015 by the release of Furious 7 and Jurrasic World -- failed to repeat that success.
Otherwise the cable and entertainment conglomerate had a solid quarter as its cable-TV business continued to heal -- video subscriber losses were a negligible 4,000 compared to 69,000 in the year-ago quarter -- and NBC broadcast-TV revenues rose 17 percent on more licensing and retransmission fees.
Revenues in the hit-or-miss Universal films unit fell 40 percent.
The Philadelphia firm reported $19.3 billion in revenues, compared to $18.7 million a year ago. Net income of $2 billion compared to $2.1 billion a year ago.
"We had a great first half of the year on so many fronts," Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts said on an analysts conference call, citing cable subscriber metrics and NBC TV ad sales.
Roberts said the firm had no intention of launching a national on-demand streaming product like Netflix or Hulu outside of its cable-TV territories because the "economics are unproven to us."
Comcast's goal was an "in-market strategy," staying within its historic regional cable-TV territories, developing products and improving customer service, Roberts said.
Comcast has said it has 29 months of improving subscriber metrics since it began the big overhaul of its maligned customer service. This year's second quarter had the fewest losses of TV subscribers in 10 years.
Meanwhile, Comcast's high-speed internet business added 220,000 business and residential customers, its best in eight years. Comcast may have been helped in the TV and internet businesses by the union strike at competitor Verizon Communications Inc., observers say.
Comcast executives could not discuss the federal spectrum auction this year, citing regulations, but cable division head Neil Smit called wireless "a real opportunity" and there's "more to come in the future."
Comcast recently promoted a long-time executive Greg Butz to head the new Comcast Mobile unit. Smit said Comcast runs 15 million Wifi hotspots in its national cable-TV franchise areas. Experts believe Comcast will base a new wireless service on a combination of traditional cellular-phone wireless technology and Wifi.
Steve Burke, the head of NBCUniversal, said NBC Sports hit the advertising-revenue budget for the Rio Olympics three weeks ahead of schedule.
According to Bloomberg News, NBC lobbied to switch the official language of the Rio Olympics to English from Portuguese -- Brazil's official language -- to boost television viewers for the opening ceremony. With the switch, U.S. athletes would enter the arena near the back of the parade of teams, giving American viewers a reason to stick around.
Olympic teams enter the arena in alphabetical order. In Portuguese, the U.S. athletes enter under the banner of "Estados Unidos." In English, they would enter under "United States." Olympics officials declined to make the switch, the report said.
NBC said it did not ask for a switch to the English alphabet. "We have regular discussions" with IOC partners, an NBC Sports spokesman said.
Burke noted that he and Roberts had visited China two weeks ago, seeking growth. NBCUniversal intends to open a theme park there in 2020 and grow revenues in movies.
Comcast executives said they expect a rebound in the movie unit with the recent animated movie The Secret Life of Pets and other releases this fall, including a new Bourne flick.
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