Universal Box Office Sinks 95% in Q3 as 'Trolls World Tour' Lifts Home Entertainment 49%

Comcast’s revenue from its Universal theme parks fell 81% in the third quarter of 2020

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Comcast reported its third-quarter 2020 earnings Thursday, beating Wall Street’s expectations but reporting heavy losses at the  box office, but a 49.1% increase in home entertainment with the PVOD release of “Trolls World Tour,” which was originally supposed to hit theaters in March.

The media giant’s box office was hit hard — just as it has been for other major players amid the pandemic — with theatrical revenue falling 94.75%.

Revenue at Comcast’s Universal theme parks fell 81% in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2020, the company said on Thursday, due to Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Japan operating at limited capacity, while Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed as a result of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the company says signups for its Peacock streaming service are nearing 22 million since it launched nationwide in July.

Overall, NBCUniversal’s revenue fell 18.9% with filmed entertainment down 25% and cable TV down 1.3%, though home entertainment was up the above-mentioned 49.1% thanks to “Trolls World Tour.”

Comcast’s cable communications business was -2.9% year to year. The company lost 3,000 net TV subscribers in the quarter.

Wall Street forecast earnings per share (EPS) of 52 cents on 24.74 billion in revenue, according to a consensus compiled by Yahoo Finance. Comcast reported adjusted EPS of 65 cents on $25.53 billion in revenue.

Most media companies were financially rocked in Q3 of 2020, a full quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NBCUniversal launched its new streaming service Peacock exclusively for Comcast and Cox subscribers on April 15. The platform rolled out nationwide July 15. In September, Comcast reported the streaming service had topped 15 million sign-ups to date, exactly two months after its full debut.

“We are nearly eight months into this pandemic – and despite many harsh realities, I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of how our team has worked together across the company to find safe and creative solutions to successfully operate in this environment,” Brian L. Roberts, chairman and chief executive officer of Comcast Corporation, said in a statement prepared to accompany the financials. “We are executing at the highest level; and perhaps, most importantly, accelerating innovation, which will drive long-term future growth. This third quarter, we delivered the best broadband results in our company’s history. Driven by our industry-leading platform and strategic focus on broadband, aggregation and streaming, we added a record 633,000 high-speed internet customers and 556,000 total net new customer relationships. At the same time, we’re growing our entertainment platforms with the addition of Flex, which has a significant positive impact on broadband churn and customer lifetime value. Our integrated strategy is also driving results in streaming with nearly 22 million sign-ups for Peacock to date, and we are exceeding our expectations on all engagement metrics in only a few months. And Sky continues to add customer relationships at higher prices while reducing churn to all-time lows in our core UK business. Going forward, and as we emerge from the pandemic, we believe we are extremely well positioned to provide seamless and integrated experiences for our customers and to deliver superior long-term growth and returns for our shareholders.”

Comcast stock closed Wednesday at $41.98 per share. The regular U.S. stock markets will reopen at 9:30 a.m. ET.

The media giant has seen an executive shakeup at NBCUniversal in recent months, as top unscripted TV executive Meredith Ahr and NBC Entertainment chairman Paul Telegdy were both ousted following an investigation into their workplace behavior.

Roberts and other Comcast executives will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET to discuss the quarter in greater detail.

More to come…

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