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Political Ad Spending Propels Comcast In Q3

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Political advertising has been good to Comcast.

Comcast’s cable advertising revenue increased 15.2% to $684 million in Q3, but that bump would have been just 0.6% without political advertising, the company disclosed Thursday.

Meanwhile ad revenue at media division NBCUniversal was up (4.2% for its cable networks, 9.2% for broadcast). The increase was attributed to MSNBC and “strong overall pricing” but was “partially offset by ratings declines,” Comcast said. And midterm campaign dollars played a role here as well.  

“Political is way up on the NBCUniversal side,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told investors on the company earnings call. “It looks more like a presidential year than a midterm year.”

Overall, Comcast had a solid quarter, exceeding its top- and bottom-line projections. Group revenues jumped 5.5% to $22.13 billion. The 2018 World Cup on Telemundo also boosted Comcast’s earnings, bringing cable network advertising revenue up 9.2%.

“Despite well-known factors that make it look like a less good business, our TV business is very strong,” Roberts said. “Our advertising market is very strong.”

Comcast will now turn its attention to European broadcaster Sky, which it purchased for $39 billion in back in September.

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch told investors Thursday the company plans to double down on its advanced advertising initiatives, which make up about 14% of the company’s ad revenues.

“With broadened reach into new markets, this should propel [Sky’s advanced advertising growth] even further,” Darroch said.

Even with Sky under Comcast’s belt, Roberts was reticent to discuss plans for new SVOD products.

“Streaming is obviously going to be part of our business, but it’s not a substitute for a very good business in TV,” he said. “Streaming is very challenging economically. We don’t want to rush into anything that’s been a tremendous business and make it worse.”

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