NBCU Completes Upfront, Sees Q3 Ad Revenues Decline

With the release of its third-quarter financial report, Comcast’s NBCUniversal says it has completed its upfront advertising selling deals for the current TV season, with “strong volume commitments and higher pricing.”

The company did not provide details.

The upfront selling season has been hampered by production delays for many new shows this year, which have slowed advertising commitments -- deals typically agreed to in the June-August period. Some advertisers have pushed season-long deals to begin in January.

For the July-September period, NBCUniversal’s broadcast networks and cable networks witnessed ad revenue declines of 12% (to $1.05 billion) and 2% (to $793 million), respectively.

NBC’s cable networks experienced a rare decline in distribution revenue -- down 3.8% (to $1.6 billion) -- largely due to the loss of games and subscribers for its regional sports networks in the period as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

NBC’s broadcast platforms, TV networks and TV stations continued to see gains in distribution revenues -- retransmission content fees -- growing 4.9% (to $620 million).

On the plus side -- for both broadcast and cable -- content licensing revenue was sharply higher, up 65% (to $740 million) and 17% (to $326 million) respectively -- partly due to the timing of deals as well as programming transactions for NBCU’s new streaming service Peacock.

NBCU says Peacock now has nearly 22 million subscribers. It also touts a recent deal with TV streaming platform distributor Roku.

Filmed entertainment was down 25% to $1.3 billion, with theatrical revenue sinking by 95% (to $29 million) versus the third quarter a year ago.



Boosting these results in a positive direction were rising home entertainment revenues -- up 49% ($279 million), including the streaming of theatrical-intended movies such as “Trolls World Tour.”

Theme park revenues globally sank due to the pandemic -- down 81% to $311 million.

Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Japan have been operating at limited capacity, while Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed.

Parent Comcast Corp. witnessed a 5% decline in overall revenues to $25.5 billion, largely due to COVID-19 issues.

For its cable communications unit, the company’s video business was down 2% to $5.5 billion, with high-speed internet revenue up 10% in the period to $4.7 billion. Comcast revenue suffered due to lower fees for its regional sport networks, amidst cancellation of sporting events.

Video subscribers had a net loss of 273,000 to a total of 20.09 million, while broadband internet subscribers grew by 633,000 to total 30.1 million.

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