Olympics Draws $1.8 Billion in Revenue, But Comcast Mum on Profit

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The long-delayed Tokyo Olympics paid off handsomely for NBCUniversal, as the company booked $1.76 billion in revenue over the course of the 17-day event. That marked a 9% increase compared to the $1.62 billion NBCU generated during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

NBC parent Comcast reported the Olympics haul Thursday in its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. While the cable giant did not specify the exact contributions of the advertising sales and affiliate/distribution units, NBC Sports execs in June said that they expected the commercial inventory in the Tokyo Games would fetch north of $1.25 billion.

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Comcast also did not confirm that it had made a profit on the Summer Olympics, despite having projected as much during the first week of competition. “Net-net, [despite] all this bad luck, we’re going to be profitable on the Olympics, which we’re very happy with,” NBCU CEO Jeff Shell told investors on July 29, during Comcast’s second-quarter earnings call.

Shell, who spoke briefly during the question-and-answer segment of today’s third-quarter call, did not provide guidance on NBC’s final Olympics take. His lone reference to the Olympics had to do with the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing.

Comcast paid the International Olympic Committee $1.42 billion for the rights to broadcast the Tokyo event. Productions costs were mitigated somewhat by the savings associated with reduced travel expenses; per NBC Sports, 1,800 of the 3,400 staffers assigned to the Summer Games stayed behind to work remotely from the network’s facilities in Stamford, Conn.

Just as Comcast execs didn’t offer any insight into the profitability of the Tokyo Games, they were equally unforthcoming with regard to the Peacock streaming service. While the company predicted that the Olympics would serve as a massive promotional platform for the fledgling Peacock, neither today’s 8-K filing nor the subsequent earnings call provided any detail as to how many new customers signed up between the torch-lighting ceremony on July 23 and the valedictory parade of nations on Aug. 8.

Not only did Comcast keep the Peacock subscriber data under wraps, but it provided no update on the service’s overall headcount. This marks the first time Comcast has kept mum about Peacock’s vital signs; during the second-quarter call, chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the direct-to-consumer offering had amassed “54 million signups and over 20 million monthly active accounts.”

When asked today about Peacock’s current sub count, Shell didn’t provide a terribly granular response. “Everything … is heading in the right direction, and there is really nothing from a trajectory perspective that is any different from what it was last quarter,” Shell said, before adding that the service had “added a few million more subs, more MAAs [monthly active accounts].”

“We’re really pleased with Peacock,” Shell went on to say. “It’s way ahead of where we expected to be at this point, and every month, every quarter it gets further ahead.”

Comcast reported that Peacock in the third quarter delivered a $520 million adjusted loss, up from the $233 million loss it incurred in the year-ago period. The service generated $230 million in revenue, up from $41 million.

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