Basic video customer losses rose for Comcast in Q4 to 149,000 from just 29,000 in the prior year, but the company managed to add more broadband customers for the full year than it has in more than a decade, which should keep investors happy.
Comcast added 442,000 high-speed internet customers in the period, and gained 1.4 million for the full year, its best performance in 12 years. That helped drive revenue at the cable business up 2.6% to $14.7 billion and cash flow up 5.4% to $5.9 billion.
For the full year, video losses nearly doubled to 733,000 from 370,000 in 2018.
Consolidated revenue was up 2% to $28.4 billion and consolidated cash flow rose 3% to $8.4 billion in Q4. Comcast also announced a 10% increase in its dividend.
For the full year, cable revenue was up 9.4% and cash flow rose 7.3%.
At its NBCUniversal programming unit, revenue was down 2.6% to $9.1 billion and cash flow declined 4.7% to $2 billion in the quarter. Within the unit, Filmed Entertainment took the biggest hit (revenue fell 21% and cash flow was down 48%), offsetting a 1.2% revenue gain at its cable networks. Cable networks also saw a decline of 1.4% in cash flow in the quarter, while broadcast TV reported a 2.1% revenue gain and a 14% increase in cash flow.
For the full year, NBCU revenue declined 5% and cash flow rose 2%.
"We delivered strong operational and financial results in the fourth quarter, capping another great year for Comcast, including double-digit growth in full-year adjusted EPS, record free cash flow and 1.4 million broadband net additions in the U.S.,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a press release. “Our teams at Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky continued to execute at a high level, strengthening our leadership position in our markets. Looking ahead, in 2020 we are leaning into exciting opportunities, including: further differentiating our broadband product in the U.S. through innovations like Flex and xFi Advanced Security; accelerating the deployment of Sky Q; launching a new broadband service in Italy; debuting Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan; and introducing a world-class streaming service - Peacock - which leverages capabilities from across Comcast.”