Comcast Pares Q1 Sub Losses

NBC Universal shows gains
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Comcast released its first quarter earnings after the stock market close Tuesday, reporting stronger than expected results and reducing basic subscriber losses by more than half.

Cable revenue rose 5.8% to $9.1 billion in the period and cable operating cash flow increased a strong 7.7% to $3.7 billion in the period. At its NBC Universal, revenue was driven by strong performance at the cable networks (up 13.3% to $2 billion in the period), offset somewhat by a 39% decline in broadcast television revenue and unfavorable comparisons. Total revenue at NBCU was down 11.5% in the quarter to $4.3 billion, compared to $4.9 billion in 2010. However, 2010 included $782 million in revenue from the Vancouver Olympic Games. Excluding the impact of the Olympics, revenue was up 5.2% at NBCU. Pro forma operating cash flow at the programming unit was up 4.9% to $473 million in the period.

On the operations side, Cable Communications president Neil Smit made good on his promise to improve basic subscriber metrics, with the No. 1 MSO more than halving its losses (39,000) in the quarter compared to a loss of 82,000 basic subscribers in the same period last year.

Comcast also added 418,000 high-speed Internet customers and  260,000 telephone customers in the period.

"We are off to a terrific start in 2011," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement. Comcast will hold a conference call with analysts to discuss the first quarter results on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.