In a few years Peacock will have the right to stream National Football League games alongside NBC on Sundays. That could ripple feathers at some NBC branches if viewers drop the TV and choose Peacock to watch football. The streamer will also have some games exclusive.
Peacock can also act as a hedge against other cable operators like Charter or Cox when Comcast’s media division, NBCUniversal, is negotiating transportation fees.
Comcast also sells something that has proven to be more durable than sports and entertainment: broadband, the pipelines that all streaming platforms carry. In the first quarter, sales rose 12 percent to $ 5.6 billion. It will likely overtake cable television as the company’s biggest business.
Mr. Roberts highlighted the company’s plans to offer higher speeds that could exceed several gigabits per second and are many times faster than the current benchmark. “The robustness of our network in the US speaks for how we have positioned ourselves in competition with other providers,” he said.
Comcast sees itself first and foremost as a technology company and then as a media company. Even Peacock is seen as an extension of its broadband business.
Sales at NBCUniversal fell sharply as theaters remained largely closed and fewer people visited the Universal Orlando Resort and other theme parks due to the pandemic. Revenue declined 9 percent to $ 7 billion and profit before tax declined 12 percent to $ 1.5 billion. Advertising on television networks, which include NBC, MSNBC and Syfy, fell 3.4 percent to $ 2.1 billion.
Jeff Shell, the head of NBCUniversal, has launched a series of cost-cutting measures since its acquisition in January 2020, accelerated by the pandemic. This has helped maintain profits even when revenues have declined. The theme parks division was hardest hit, losing $ 61 million in the quarter. The company expected business to pick up in the summer.
Overall, Comcast exceeded expectations, reporting adjusted earnings of 76 cents per share on sales of $ 27.2 billion. The stock rose on Thursday morning. Investors were looking for earnings per share of 59 cents and sales of $ 26.6 billion.