Comcast revenue up as Sky achieves best Q1 subs growth in six years
Sky, the European pay-television giant, posted a 10.6 per cent increase in revenue to $5 billion for the first quarter of the year despite the ongoing challenges posed by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Sky also achieved its best first quarter for subscriber additions in six years, with an extra 221,000.
This takes Sky’s total subscriber base to 23.4 million across its operations in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.
The broadcaster’s direct-to-consumer revenue was up 1.8 per cent to $4.1 billion, while its advertising income increased by 3.4 per cent to $574 million, and content revenue rose by 1.7 per cent to $358 million.
However, overall profits dropped by almost 40 per cent due to higher sports programming costs.
In the UK, Sky last year agreed a deal with English soccer’s Premier League to defer a rebate of more than £170 million ($236.5 million) until the 2021-22 season after the previous campaign was halted in March before eventually being completed in July.
The league’s main domestic rights holder will pay its fee in full for both last season and the current campaign, which will lead to an eventual rebate next year.
As the 2019-20 season was concluded, the total rebate for domestic rights holders Sky and BT Sport is around £223 million.
It emerged this week that the Premier League is looking to roll over its existing UK broadcast rights deals with Sky, BT Sport and Amazon to the end of the 2024-25 season, with the government having to give its approval.
Sky’s financial figures were revealed by parent company and US media giant Comcast, which posted a 2.2 per cent revenue increase of its own to $27.2 billion for the first three months of the year.
The figure represents a better-than-expected set of financial results for the company, above analysts forecasts of $26.7 billion.
Comcast attributed the rise to higher demand for its broadband services during the pandemic as its internet business grew, largely fuelled by a growth in remote working and streaming demand.
Meanwhile, the company’s major NBCUniversal division, which includes its film, TV and theme park assets, posted a 9 per cent decline in revenue to $7 billion as induced production delays and closures caused by Covid-19 continued to take their toll.
However, it proved to be a strong quarter for NBC’s new streaming service Peacock as it reached 42 million subscriptions, compared to 33 million in the previous quarter, benefiting from the acquisition of exclusive domestic streaming rights to WWE Network, the wrestling promotion's digital platform, in January.
Comcast’s media revenue rose by 3.2 per cent to $5 billion, while profit dropped 3.7 per cent to $1.5 billion due to higher programming and production expenses related to Peacock content.
Its media operation, which includes the TV business and Peacock, saw advertising revenue fall 3.4 per cent, which reflected a decline in ratings, partially offset by higher pricing and sports volume and advertising income from Peacock.
Peacock is to offer complementary coverage of this year's Tokyo Olympic Games alongside the main NBC channels.
Meanwhile, internet giant Amazon has posted revenue of $108.52 billion in its first quarter results.
The company’s sales continue to surge during the pandemic period with a 44 per cent year-over-year increase.
Amazon expects further growth in the second quarter, projecting revenue between $110 billion and $116 billion.
Outside of its core retail operation, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing and advertising businesses achieved net sales of $13.5 billion in the quarter, up 32 per cent year-over-year.
Amazon’s international sales surged 60 per cent, while its North America revenue climbed 40 per cent.
The company offers a variety of entertainment and sport via its Amazon Prime Video service, including Premier League soccer and ATP and US Open tennis in the UK.