Profits Plummet At Comcast, Cable Nets Provide Some Traction

Comcast Corp.--the largest cable television operator in the U.S.--witnessed overall profits falling in the fourth quarter, with one bright area coming from its cable networks.

Fourth-quarter profits fell 32% to $412 million from $602 million in 4Q 2007. Revenue rose 9% to $8.77 billion, which was slightly better than analysts expected.

Much of this came from a charge related to the decreased value of its investment in the Clearwire Wi-Max service, as well as lower basic subscriber growth.

Basic cable customers declined by a faster rate in the fourth quarter--233,000--than in the third, where it dropped 147,000. The decline is attributed to the dismal U.S. economy and increased competition from telephone companies.

One of Comcast's better-performing divisions was its cable networks. The nets--which include E!, Versus, Style, Golf Channel, G4 and AZN Television--saw revenue (advertising sales, monthly affiliate fees, and international revenues) hold steady at $350 million in fourth-quarter 2008, from $348 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Overall, Comcast's programming segment reported 2008 revenue of $1.4 billion--a 9% increase from 2007. Comcast said the group's operating cash flow increased 26% to $362 million in 2008. But that decreased somewhat in the fourth quarter to 10%.

Other Comcast business: It added 184,000 high-speed Internet customers in the quarter. This compares to higher numbers in the third quarter--where broadband customers rose by 382,000.

Digital cable also slowed in the fourth quarter--adding 247,000 customers in the period, versus some 417,000 in the third quarter of 2008.

The same trend existed among Comcast's digital telephone business--adding some 344,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, versus 483,000 new customers in the third quarter.

Next story loading loading..