Comcast resilient, but Sky grapples with tough economic climate

Against a backdrop of economic volatility and seismic change in the media industry, Sky and NBC Universal owner Comcast managed to deliver a solid set of results for Q3 2022. For the quarter in question, revenues dipped 1.5% to $29.8 billion. For the first nine months of the year, the headline revenue figure was up 5.6% to $90.9 billion. The markets responded by sending the Comcast share price down by 1.5% – much less than the 25% drop experienced by Meta after it delivered its own results.

“I’m proud of the company and our strong financial results this quarter,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast. “We delivered solid growth in adjusted EBITDA and adjusted EPS, generated significant free cash flow, invested in our businesses’ future and returned a record amount of capital to our shareholders. In Cable, we grew adjusted EBITDA by more than 5% and achieved our highest adjusted EBITDA margin on record despite a challenging competitive environment. At NBCUniversal, robust demand from guests at our Theme Parks and from viewers of our iconic content fuelled nearly 25% growth in adjusted EBITDA. And, at Sky, our team continues to prudently manage through a difficult and rapidly changing macroeconomic and geopolitical period in the UK and Europe.”

Among the more granular details within Comcast’s results was the news that streaming platform Peacock has now past 15 million paid subscribers in the US, up nearly 70% year to date. Growing the platform is not proving cheap, however, with the result showing an adjusted EBITDA6 loss of $614 million related to Peacock.

Revenue at European pay TV and content business Sky, meanwhile, dropped 14.7% to $4.3bn (which Comcast attributed to the impact of currency exchange rates). For the nine months ended September 30, 2022, Sky revenue decreased 11% to $13.5bn. Excluding the impact of currency, revenue decreased 1.4%, “reflecting lower DTC revenue and content revenue, partially offset by higher ad revenue”.

Total customer relationships at Sky increased by 320,000 to 23 million in the third quarter of 2022, driven by streaming customer net additions as a result of the timing of new content and the early start of the football season. However, for the nine months ended September 30, 2022, total relationships decreased by 41,000.

Sky was perhaps the most challenged part of the overall media empire, with Comcast noting that: “In Q3 2022, we recorded noncash impairment charges related to goodwill and intangible assets in our Sky segment totalling $8.6 billion. The impairments primarily reflected an increased discount rate and reduced estimated future cash flows as a result of macroeconomic conditions in Sky’s territories.”

For the nine months ended September 30, 2022, NBCUniversal revenue increased 17.3% to $29.3 billion. The current year period included $1.5 billion of incremental revenue from the Beijing Winter Olympics and the NFL’s Super Bowl, while 2021 included $1.8bn of incremental revenue from the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Tags: Comcast, Germany, Italy, Sky, UK, US

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