Comcast Pares Q1 Sub Losses

NBC Universal shows gains

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.