Comcast Beats Earnings Expectations, Reports Peacock Sign-Ups Grow to 42 Million

Todd Williamson | Peacock | NBCUniversal | Getty Images
  • Comcast's first-quarter results beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.
  • Peacock sign-ups grew from 33 million to 42 million during the quarter.

Comcast reported first-quarter results on Thursday that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines, sending shares up 4.25%.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: 76 cents vs 58 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $27.21 billion vs $26.7 billion in the Refinitiv survey
  • High-speed internet customers: 461,000 vs 396,000 net adds expected in a FactSet survey

Peacock, the company's streaming service, reached 42 million sign-ups across the U.S., from 33 million in the fourth quarter. Comcast credited the addition of the popular series "The Office" and its exclusive domestic streaming rights to the WWE Network for the growth in sign-ups. The company didn't break down the numbers around subscribers for the free plan or its paid versions.

"We very encouraged with Peacock so far," the company said, adding on its earnings call that usage has doubled its projections.

The company also had its best first-quarter result on record for total customer relationships, adding 380,000, reaching 33.5 million. It added 461,000 high-speed internet customers.

The company's studios division was hampered by the pandemic, which restricted movie theater operations and shut down some movie production.

Studios revenue decreased 0.6% to $2.4 billion in the first quarter of 2021, primarily reflecting lower theatrical revenue. Theatrical revenue decreased 87.7%, driven by the deferral of big-screen releases, theater closures and capacity limits.

At the same time, its content licensing revenue increased 14.1%, primarily due to a new licensing agreement for content that became exclusive to Peacock.

Comcast's theme park division, hit by closures and capacity reductions stemming from the pandemic, saw revenue decrease 33.1% to $619 million.

Comcast said its Europe-based Sky division continued to add customers amid renewed lockdowns in Europe, adding 221,000 to reach 23.4 million. That makes for its best first-quarter result in six years, the company said, while the segment's revenue increased 10.6%.

Here's how Comcast's divisions did for the quarter compared with a year earlier:

  • Cable communications accounted for $15.81 billion in revenue, up 5.9%
  • Media brought in $5.04 billion, up 3.2%
  • Theme parks accounted for $619 million, down 33.1%
  • Studios reported $2.4 billion, down 0.6%

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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