Comcast tops profit forecasts; cable TV subscriptions fall

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Comcast, the biggest USA cable provider, shed 140,000 video customers during the quarter, up from 34,000 customers in the prior-year quarter, as TV viewers opt for cheaper streaming options, such as AT&T Inc's newly launched WatchTV at $15.

The satellite broadcaster, the focus of a bidding war between 39 per cent shareholder 21st Century Fox and American cable giant Comcast, said the building blocks were in place for future growth.

It added 270,000 new customers in the United Kingdom and Ireland over the year, including 20,000 in the fourth quarter.

Revenue rose 2.1 percent, to $21.74 billion, as the company added 260,000 high-speed internet customers during the period.

Last week, Comcast dropped its pursuit of Fox's entertainment assets, ceding a vast swath of Murdoch's empire to Disney.

Roberts undoubtedly felt that need because Comcast's share price plunged from a high of almost $43 in late January - before it made its ambitious bids for Fox and Sky - to a low of $30.60 in early May.

Jeremy Darroch
Jeremy Darroch said Sky is ‘bigger than ever

Sky is now courting two suitors for a takeover, Comcast, who put in a £26bn bid for the company earlier this month, and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, who have made an offer valued at around £24.5bn.

Comcast said it has increased its marketing for internet-only subscribers, since internet has higher profit margins than cable, which are diminished by TV programming costs.

Moving to wireless, Comcast netted 204,000 Xfinity mobile customer lines, boosting its total to 780,000.

Revenue was up 5 percent to 13.59 billion pounds, beating a forecast by UBS, as the company said it had attracted more than 500,000 customers across its main markets in Britain and Ireland, Germany and Austria and Italy. That made it Comcast's best second quarter for broadband gains in a decade. The wireless service launched past year and is available only to Comcast internet subscribers. The company also added another 60,000 smart home customers to reach 1.236 million, while voice customers fell by 16,000 to 11.482 million.

Comcast's NBCUniversal reported $8.3 billion in sales, roughly the same as a year earlier. "All those are great trends for us".

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