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Comcast Takes $8.6 Billion Write-Down on Sky, Reports Revenue Dip


Comcast Corp.

CMCSA 5.78%

took an $8.6 billion write-down on its Sky pay-TV operations and posted a dip in third-quarter revenue, as strong growth in the company’s wireless and film businesses was offset by a slowdown at its media segment.

The cable and entertainment giant swung to a net loss of $4.6 billion, compared with a profit of about $4 billion in the same period a year ago, mainly because of the write-down. The company said the noncash charge was due to macroeconomic conditions in Sky territories, which are in Europe. Comcast acquired Sky in 2018 for about $40 billion.

Factoring out the Sky write-down and certain other items, Comcast would have reported an adjusted net profit of $4.2 billion, or 96 cents per share, beating Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet expected adjusted net income of $3.54 billion, or 90 cents per share.

Comcast reported total revenue of $29.8 billion for the quarter, a 1.5% decline from the year-earlier period.

Revenue at Comcast’s NBCUniversal media and entertainment unit fell 4.3%. Revenue in the media segment declined sharply compared with the previous year, when results were boosted by carrying the summer Olympics. Ad revenue fell 35%. Excluding the Olympics, media revenue would have increased 4.4%.

Profitability in the media business also declined, due partly to increased spending on the Peacock streaming service. Adjusted earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization in that part of the business fell 41.5%.

Peacock surpassed 15 million paid subscribers in the quarter, two million higher than when the company reported second-quarter results in July. Peacock posted revenue of $506 million in the quarter, while its adjusted operating losses increased.

The slump in the media segment outweighed strength at other parts of NBCUniversal. Revenue grew 31% in the studio business, fueled by “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” while the unit’s adjusted EBITDA tripled. Theme-parks revenue was up 42%.

Revenue in the cable unit was up 2.6%. Wireless growth was a bright spot, with Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile service adding 333,000 subscribers. The company said the service has crossed five million lines after five years of operation.

After failing to add high-speed internet customers in the second quarter— the first such instance in its history—Comcast added 14,000 broadband subscribers in the third quarter.

For many years, Comcast reliably added over 100,000 broadband customers each quarter, and that business was a major driver of the company’s growth. The company faces competition from wireless providers such as

T-Mobile US Inc.


Verizon Communications Inc.,

which offer 5G home-internet service that can be an alternative to a wired broadband connection. Comcast’s broadband revenue increased 5.7% due to higher average rates and a larger customer base compared with the previous year.

Cable TV cord-cutting accelerated, as the company lost 561,000 video customers, compared with 521,000 in the previous quarter.

Comcast’s acquisition of Sky was a major bet on international expansion. Sky added 320,000 customers in the third quarter, but revenue decreased 14.7%. Factoring out foreign-currency fluctuations, revenue was roughly flat.

Write to Patience Haggin at [email protected]

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