Cable Drives Q1 Revenue, Cash Flow Gains at Comcast

But MSO’s Quarterly Streak of Video Sub Improvements Snapped at Nine
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Revenue and operating cash flow grew at a healthy clip in the first quarter for Comcast, but the nation’s largest cable operator snapped its nine-quarter string of basic video subscriber improvement, losing nearly twice the amount of video customers than in the prior year.

"We are off to a solid start in 2013, with strong revenue and cash flow growth and record quarterly free cash flow. Cable's results highlight revenue growth in every product, led by Video and High-Speed Internet, and overall customer growth, as we continue to effectively balance financial and customer performance,” Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement.

Overall revenue increased 2.9% to $15.3 billion and operating cash flow was up 7.4% to $5 billion in the period, driven primarily by strong growth at its cable operations and networks. Excluding $259 million in revenue generated by the NFL Super Bowl in 2012, revenue increased 4.7% in the period.

Cable revenue rose a strong 6.4% to $10.2 billion while OCF increased 6.7% to $4.2 billion. At its media networks, revenue declined 2.4% to $5.3 billion and OCF increased 17.2% to $953 million. Broadcast revenue dipped 18.5% in the period, partially offset by a 4.2% increase at its cable channels, a 2% rise at filmed entertainment and a 12.2% increase at its theme parks.

At the cable unit, video losses were larger than in the prior period for the first time since the third quarter of 2010. Comcast lost 60,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, almost twice the 37,000 it lost in the same period in 2012. High-speed Internet customers also rose at a slower pace in the period – adding 433,000 in the period vs. 439,000 in 2012. Voice customer additions were up by 211,000 subscribers in the period, ahead of the 164,000 additions in the same period last year. Overall revenue generating units increased by 583,000 in the period, a 3.2% increase compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Comcast is scheduled to hold a conference call with analysts to discuss its quarterly results today at 8:30 a.m.