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Comcast profits rise in Q1 as churn improves across video, broadband segments

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Comcast profits rise in Q1 as churn improves across video, broadband segments

Comcast Corp.on April 27 reported higher profits and revenues for the first quarter,bolstered by subscriber additions in its high-speed Internet and videoservices.

In an earnings conference call, CEO Brian Roberts said theaddition of 53,000 video customers in the quarter made the company video netadd positive over the past 12 months, which he termed an "importantmilestone" that the company had not achieved for nearly a decade.

He attributed the subscriber growth for both the video andbroadband segments in part to improvements in churn, saying customers haveresponded well to recent improvements in Comcast's services, including broaderaccess to gigabit speeds through DOCSIS 3.1 technology and its X1 videoplatform.

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said that he expects churn willcontinue to drop in the future, though he added that new connections aregrowing also.

"I think we are doing the right things in the customer experience,we are doing the right things on the product side, and we are doing the rightthings on the channel development side," Smit said, speakingof the company's efforts to better retain and attract customers.

Looking ahead to the upfront for Comcast's unit, Robertsconfirmed that the company would unify the event for , and its cablenetworks this year. NBCUniversal Media President and CEO Steve Burke said thatalthough a lot of advertisers pulled back on spending at the upfront last year,partly due to increased interest in digital, he is expecting improvement thisyear.

"I think people have come to the realization that broadtelevision reach is really important in a campaign; that digital has a placebut television has a big place," Burke said. "A lot of people I thinkwho did not come into the upfront market last year paid significantly more inwhat has been one of the strongest scatter markets I have ever seen."

Executives did not comment on recent media about Comcast's rumoredplan to purchase DreamWorksAnimation SKG Inc. in a deal worth more than $3 billion.

Comcast on April 27 reported first-quarter net incomeattributable to the company of $2.13 billion, or 87 cents per share, up from$2.06 billion, or 81 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The S&PGlobal Market Intelligence first-quarter consensus EPS estimate was 79 cents ona normalized basis and 80 cents on a GAAP basis.

Revenue rose to $18.79 billion, up 5.3% from $17.85 billionin the first quarter of 2015. Free cash flow was down 11.9% year over year toabout $2.81 billion.

In its cable operations, Comcast's 53,000 net video customeradditions in the first quarter compared to a loss of 8,000 in the prior-yearperiod. The company said the additions were the highest for a first quarter innine years. Comcast added 438,000 high-speed Internet customers, compared to407,000 in the prior-year period. Voice subscriber additions grew to 102,000from 77,000 a year ago.

Cable video revenue rose 3.9% year over year to $5.54 billion,while high-speed Internet was up 7.6% to $3.28 billion. Voice revenue fell 1.1%to $896 million, while business services was up 17.5% to $1.31 billion andadvertising was up 12.1% to $559 million.

At NBCUniversal, total revenue grew 3.9% to $6.86 billion inthe first quarter, compared to $6.60 billion in the prior-year quarter. Thecompany attributed the growth primarily to the acquisition of Universal StudiosJapan in November 2015.

Overall, filmed entertainment revenue declined 4.3% to $1.38billion, while theme parks revenue was up 57.5% to $1.03 billion. Cablenetworks revenue grew 4% to $2.45 billion, while broadcast TV revenue dropped7.3% to $2.08 billion.