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Comcast 2Q earnings meet expectations; A look at some key issues

Tom Paine

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Comcast earnings calls are so well correographed that I usually focus on exception reporting, noting the few items or remarks that stand out like outliers. But there was a little more substance and discussion of strategic issues today as Comcast reported 2nd quarter earnings, though the financial results were largely as expected (hint: it made a ton of money)

Comcast couldn't comment on the ongoing spectrum auction because FCC rules prohibit it. It stands to gain money by selling spectrum as well as spend money buying spectrum. But Neil Smit did comment on the wireless opportunity in general, saying "with 28 million customer relationships, our MVNO rights, which we've invoked, and our 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots, we think there's a real business opportunity there. We've been in test and learn mode." Smit also mentioned the appointment of Greg Butz to head Comcast's wireless effort.

Comcast lost only 4,000 video customers, its best second quarter result in over ten years. The second quarter is usually a low tide spot because many college students and seasonal workers move and disconnect.

Comcast's X1 is now at 40% penetration,, up from 30% at the beginning of the year, but at the 2nd quarter rate may fall short of its 50% stated goal at year end. X1 is seen as more than a user interface, but as the key vehicle for delivering content and services via the cloud.

Brian Roberts on OTT (streaming over the web) and going out of footprint, as Hulu (1/3 owned by Comcast as silent partner) prepares a Netflix-like OTT service: 'OTT economics are unproven to us, and out of footprint it's not clear that that's the right strategy for us."

Judging from a Q&A exchange, it sounds as if the XB6 wireless (WiFi) gateway is taking a little bit longer to get out of the lab than expected. Maybe late this year or early next.

Theme parks are now a billion dollar quarterly business for Comcast, with operating margins of about 45%. Quite an achievement for a company that was once laughed at for trying to acquire Disney.

NBC had the best upfront since Comcast has owned the company, with a 12.5% CPM increase at NBC primetime.

Steve Burke on retrans fees: "I think, on retrans is we still have some major contracts where retrans is going to take significant step-ups and we're still hundreds of millions of dollars less than some of the other comparable peers."

Strong gains were reported at MSNBC (Brian Williams?), and Meet the Press "moved up from 3rd to 1st in key demo"(graphics?), perhaps proving that the prior host was the problem. Political advertising is expected to provide a boost for the remainder of the year.

Business Services revenue grew 17%. About 75% of Business services revenue comes from small business, and I wouldn't be surprised if there is a slight downward blip in growth this quarter due to the major voice outage earlier this month.

For those obsessed with the numbers, revenue for the quarter was up 2.8%, and operating cash flow was up 3.0%. Results compared to last year were hurt by some tough comparisons, particularly in its film business. Cable revenue grew 6%.

Comcast 2Q 2016 earnings roundup

Comcast Tops Estimates After Losing Fewer Cable-TV Customers (Bloomberg)

Comcast Rising: CEO Roberts Wants to Make Sure Netflix, Hulu Aren’t ‘Cannibalistic’ (Barron's Tech Trader Daily)

That's a Wrap on the Broadcast Upfront
NBC Concludes Ad Talks With 12.5% Price Increase (Ad Age)

NBC’s Retrans Haul Could Get Fatter (Multichannel News)

Protesters target Comcast (Bucks County Courier Times)

Arris Rises on Q2 Results, Guidance (Multichannel News)

Links 7/27: DNC tech exhibits aim to make election coverage more interactive; SAP teams up with AliCloud to drive enterprise cloud services in China

Links 7/26: Yahoo can't make up for Verizon's problems; Layer3 TV gains more investors

Links 7/25: Netflix’s cable box deal with Comcast not exempt from data caps; First Round Capital leads $4 million Series A in startup Nomad Health

Sunday highlights: @DNCPHILLY Tech; Comcast X1 Dev in Colorado

Amazon continues N.J. expansion with a warehouse in Teterboro

Amazon continues N.J. expansion with a warehouse in Teterboro

TETERBORO - has leased a large warehouse on Route 46 as part of the e-commerce giant's plan to expand across New Jersey. According to, the company signed a 10-year lease for a 617,000 square-foot warehouse at 698 Route 46 West. In 2015, Amazon leased a 75,000 square-foot warehouse on Empire Boulevard in Moonachie. Amazon…

Report: Comcast eyeing new mobile content package; may go 'outside of cable footprint'

Tom Paine

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Greg Butz / Comcast website

Claire Atkinson, in the New York Post's "On the Money" column, reports that "Comcast is also out negotiating for national video rights to a prospective “virtual MVPD (multichannel video program distributor)” offering — the first time a regional cable player is moving beyond its footprint."

She also reports that Comcast is talking to Disney about an offering outside the cable bundle.

“If they go out of footprint, they’ll do it with a 5G mobile phone service; they don’t want to offer it with someone else’s data plan,” Atkinson quote one source as saying.

This comes within the backdrop of Comcast veteran Greg Butz, currently EVP, Sales & Marketing Operations, Comcast Cable, just being named to head a new Mobile unit.

Saturday Highlights: NY Post on Comcast mobile plans; NPR on Roger Ailes

Links 7/22: SAP Q2 FY2016, an S/4 HANA take; Verizon said to be near a deal to acquire Yahoo