UPDATE, 6:45 AM: In this morning’s analyst call, NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke subtly dinged General Electric for its management of NBC until January, when Comcast took charge. He says the conglomerate hadn’t supplied the cash that’s “necessary to compete.” Burke says Comcast is changing that: “In general we see this year, and next year probably, as investment years.” The turnaround at primetime’s No. 4 broadcast network could take as long as four years, but “I’m confident we’ll get there.” Burke says Comcast has an initiative called Symphony to market NBCU programming across company assets including VOD and online. It increased the production and marketing budgets for The Voice several times after the company realized the talent contest would be a hit. The next season will debut right after the Super Bowl in February. Meanwhile, NBCU’s cable networks are ordering more original series including USA’s Suits and Necessary Roughness and Syfy’s Alphas. Comcast also is beefing up its TV stations’ local news. It’s adding 135 people at 10 stations including 40 reporters and 20 producers; five markets are building investigative units. Burke says the investments will pay off: With growing revenue from retransmission consent deals and license fees from online streaming services such as Netflix, “content is more valuable today than it was” when Comcast agreed to buy NBCU. He adds that despite the weak economy “we don’t see any signs of deceleration” in ad sales. CEO Brian Roberts echoed Burke’s enthusiasm but warned analysts that “we have to have realistic expectations.” Roberts added that while “there’s economic news that’s rattled the markets,” Comcast is still “investing and getting good financial results.”
PREVIOUS, 4:20 AM: Comcast generated 2Q net income of $1.02B, up 15.6% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $14.3B, up 50.5%. But earnings, at 37 cents a share, missed the 41 cent target among analysts who follow the company. They expected revenues to come in at $13.8B. The cable operation had 22.5M pay TV customers at the end of June, down 3% vs last year. But Comcast picked up broadband and phone subscribers, bringing its total customer base to 49.1M, a 2.8% increase. Revenues at NBCUniversal rose 17.1% to $5.2B. Within that group, cable networks improved 12.6% to $2.2B and broadcast TV was up 18.5% to $1.7B. The filmed entertainment operation benefited from Fast Five and Bridesmaids and was up 21% to $1.3B. And theme parks were helped by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as revenues rose 22.5% to $147M.