TakeAways from Comcast’s 2019 Earnings Day

Tom Paine

Comcast added 261,000 mobile lines in Q4, ending the year with 2.05 million lines. Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s president and CEO, attributed the rise in Xfinity Mobile lines in part to “real traction at retail” and a general maturity of the product.

AT&T recently said it is open to MVNO talks with cable operators. As of now Comcast relies almost completely on Verizon. It didn’t indicate yesterday whether it was open to pursuing other MVNO relationships. CFO Michael Cavanagh said Xfinity Mobile should become EBIDTA-positive for the full year in 2021

Comcast lost 671,000 residential pay-TV customers in 2019, compared to a 344,000 in 2018. It expects the trend to continue (or widen) in 2020.  For broadband-only subscribers, Comcast will bank on its new Xfinity Flex streaming platform to grow its subscriber base.

On Peacock: “We needed to pivot the whole company to the streaming world and I think what’s exciting is how well our cable company has done that,” Brian Roberts said. “Peacock will go right back for the advertisers and get you in a growing market, taking advantage of streaming with a free product as well.”

“With the rate adjustments that we are implementing in 2020, as well as the ongoing changes in consumer behavior, we expect higher video subscriber losses this year,” said Cavanagh.

Although TV Answer Man clarifies some confusion about price increases.

Comcast Cable operating margins remain near 40%.

NBCU’s Universal Studios was hurt largely because Cats was a bomb.

Richard Greenfield, an analyst with LightShed Partners, believes streaming is a superior delivery vehicle that goes against the heart of the legacy cable business model.

To top Earnings Day off, Comcast had a one hour nationwide outage yesterday afternoon.