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Comcast reports record internet customers, 33 million Peacock sign-ups for NBCUniversal

Comcast reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.



Comcast on Thursday reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that beat analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Comcast also reported record net customer additions for high-speed internet service in Q4, and an additional 11 million subscribers to its new streaming service, Peacock.

The stock was up more than 3% in the morning.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Earnings per share: 56 cents adjusted vs. 48 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $27.71 billion vs. $26.78 billion expected by Refinitiv
  • High-speed internet customers: 538,000 vs. 490,000 net adds expected in a FactSet survey

The company said NBCUniversal’s Peacock now has 33 million sign-ups across the U.S., up from 22 million last quarter. The company said its exclusive agreement to stream wrestling matches from the WWE Network in the U.S., announced earlier this week, should also drive sign-ups and engagement, along with the recent launch of “The Office” on the platform.

Comcast also raised its quarterly dividend to 25 cents per share from 23 cents. CEO Brian Roberts said in the earnings report that the company also expects to begin repurchasing shares later in 2021.

The company reported its best fourth-quarter result on record for total customer relationships, adding 455,000 customers to reach 33.1 million. It added 538,000 high-speed internet customers.

Comcast said its Europe-based Sky division has continued to add customers, up 244,000 to 23.9 million in Q4. That brought its customer relationships and overall Sky revenue in Europe back to pre-Covid 2019 levels, the company said.

Comcast’s theme park division, which has suffered due to the pandemic, continued to get hit by closures and capacity reductions stemming from the pandemic. Theme park revenue fell nearly 63% to $579 million. The company said adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was a loss of $15 million, which included costs for its not-yet opened Universal Beijing.

“Without those costs, and better attendance at the Orlando and Osaka parks, even with Hollywood closed, the Theme Parks reached breakeven,” the company said.

The filmed entertainment division has also been battered by the pandemic, which restricted movie theater operations and shut down some movie production. The segment’s revenue decreased 8.3% to $1.4 billion. The company said that was partly offset by higher content licensing revenue. Its adjusted EBITA increased more than 65% to $151 million, “reflecting lower revenue more than offset by lower operating costs — driven by lower advertising, marketing and promotion expenses due to a reduced number of releases to the prior year.”

Comcast said its decision to release titles on premium video-on-demand has proven to be profitable.

The company said the rollout of vaccines brings optimism that its impacted business segments will return to growth. It’s also optimistic that the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to open on July 23, will still occur.

“Anything could happen, but we’re pretty confident that the Olympics will happen and the advertisers are hopping in and agreeing,” NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell said on the company’s earnings call.

Here’s how Comcast’s divisions did for the quarter compared with a year earlier:

  • Cable communications accounted for $15.7 billion in revenue, up 6.3%.
  • Cable networks brought in $2.7 billion in revenue, down 6.4%.
  • Broadcast television accounted for $2.8 billion in revenue, down 12%.
  • Filmed entertainment brought in $1.4 billion in total revenue, down 8.3%.
  • Theme parks brought in $579 million in revenue, down 63%.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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China orders Tencent to give up exclusive music licensing rights as crackdown continues

China’s antitrust regulator ordered Tencent to give up its exclusive licensing rights with international record labels and slapped a $$77,000 fine on the company.



Chinese technology firm Tencent against the backdrop of China’s flag.

Budrul Chukrut | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

China’s antitrust regulator has ordered Tencent to give up its exclusive music licensing rights and slapped a fine on the company for anti-competitive behavior, as Beijing continues to crack down on its internet giants at home.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) on Saturday imposed a fine of 500,000 yuan ($77,141) on the company citing violations in its acquisition of China Music in 2016.

Following that acquisition, Tencent owns more than 80% of exclusive music library resources, giving the company an advantage over its competitors as it is able to reach more exclusive deals with copyright holders, SAMR said in a statement.

The competition watchdog ordered Tencent and its affiliates to relinquish exclusive music rights within 30 days, and to end requirements for copyright holders to grant the company better treatment than to its competitors.

Tencent will have to report to the SAMR on its progress every year for three years, according to the statement, and the antitrust regulator will strictly supervise its implementation according to law.

In response, Tencent said in a statement it will “comply with all the regulatory requirements, fulfill our social responsibilities and contribute to healthy competition in the market.”

Tencent will work with affiliates, including Tencent Music Entertainment, to make those changes and ensure full compliance, it said.

China’s grip on internet giantsRead more about China from CNBC ProThe competition watchdog ordered Tencent and its affiliates to relinquish exclusive music rights within 30 days, and to end requirements for copyright holders to grant the company better treatment than to its competitors.


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Jeff Bezos reaches space on Blue Origin’s first crewed launch

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin launched him into spaceflight history, riding the inaugural crew launch of a New Shepard rocket.



VAN HORN, Texas — For 10 minutes and 10 seconds on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos wasn’t the richest man on Earth.

His Blue Origin company launched him into spaceflight history on Tuesday. Its first crewed New Shepard rocket blasted off from the Texas desert for the brief flight, also carrying his brother and the oldest and youngest people to ever have flown in space.

“Best day ever!” Bezos said after touchdown.

This photo provided by Blue Origin, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket lifts off Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The rocket is carrying passengers Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and space tourism company Blue Origin, his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk.

Blue Origin | AP

The capsule carrying the Blue Origin crew accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound before it reached beyond the 80 kilometer boundary (about 262,000 feet) the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The crew capsule reached an altitude of 107 kilometers (351,210 feet), and the rocket hit a top speed of 2,233 mph during the launch.

The crew floated in microgravity for a couple minutes, before the capsule returned and landed under a set of parachutes to end the mission after 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

The launch marked Blue Origin’s entrance into the market of private spaceflight, joining Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — its direct competitor in the sector of suborbital tourism — and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Making history

In addition to his singular net worth, Bezos, 57, is also the only space founder to ride the first crewed flight of his company. While SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have launched astronauts before, Bezos is the first to put himself on the inaugural crew flight.

Floating next to him: Wally Funk, 82, and Oliver Daemen, 18 — respectively the oldest and youngest humans to ever fly in space — and Bezos’ brother, Mark, 53.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Inc, his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk and recent Dutch high school graduate Oliver Daemen pose in an undated photograph, ahead of their scheduled flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket near Van Horn, Texas, U.S.

Blue Origin | Reuters

Bezos invited his brother and Funk, a female aerospace pioneer, to join the flight. Daemen was a late addition. His seat was originally part of a public auction, but the auction’s winner, an anonymous person who bid $28 million to fly with Bezos, was unable to make the July 20 launch date. Daemen’s father, Joes, CEO of a private equity firm in the Netherlands, was also a bidder, with Daemen scheduled to fly on Blue Origin’s second crew launch as a paying passenger. When the mystery bidder backed out, the company moved Daemen up to the first launch.

Tuesday’s launch also came on another historic milestone — the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Bezos’ space vision

New Shepard’s launch represents a milestone in its progress toward Bezos’ vision. He founded Blue Origin with the goal to create “a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth.”

The New Shepard rocket and the capsule that rides atop it are reusable, capable of launching, landing, and launching again multiple times. The rocket system is in many ways a pathfinder for Blue Origin’s other, larger scale projects — such as its orbital New Glenn rocket.

An artist’s illustration of a New Glenn rocket standing on the launchpad in Florida.

Blue Origin

Like New Shepard, the New Glenn rocket booster is designed to be reusable, with the company expecting each one to be capable of launching and landing 25 times. New Glenn, with an inaugural launch date target of late 2022, stands about 320 feet tall and is designed to lift nearly 50 tons of payload to low Earth orbit. The rockets are named after Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn, respectively the first American in space and the first American to orbit Earth. In 1998, then-77-year-old Sen. Glenn became the oldest person in space.

Blue Origin has also developed multiple engines to power both its rockets, including the BE-3, BE-4, and BE-7 engines.

Blue Origin tests one of the BE-4 rocket engines the company is developing to launch its New Glenn rocket.

Blue Origin | gif by @thesheetztweetz

Blue Origin is also working on a crewed lander called Blue Moon, which the company hopes to one day deliver astronauts and cargo to the lunar surface.

Space billionaires

Mural displaying Jeff Bezo and his brother Mark Bezo, is seen in Van Horn, Texas, two days before the scheduled launch of Blue Origin’s inaugural flight to the edge of space by billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos and his three crewmates, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 18, 2021.

Thom Baur | Reuters

The company’s only direct competition in the market of launching space tourists to the edge of space is Branson’s Virgin Galactic, a sector known as suborbital tourism. SpaceX is preparing to launch its first private mission in September, called Inspiration4, but Musk’s company sends its capsules further into space on multiday flights, in what is known as orbital tourism.

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have been developing rocket-powered spacecraft, but that is where the similarities end. While Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches vertically Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system is released in the air and returns to Earth in a glide for a runway landing, like an aircraft.

And while Blue Origin launches autonomously, Virgin Galactic system is flown by two pilots. Branson’s company has flown four test spaceflights to date but does not expect to begin flying paying customers until 2022.

Blue Origin’s auction may have netted $28 million, but a seat on a suborbital spacecraft is typically much less expensive. Virgin Galactic has historically sold reservations between $200,000 and $250,000 per ticket, and more recently charged the Italian Air Force about $500,000 per ticket for a training spaceflight.

The tourism market is a nascent slice of the more than $420 billion space economy. Yet its high profile — given the much more thrilling human element — means it has a powerful and widespread influence over the space industry, with investors often pointing to astronaut flights as driving excitement about the broader implications of the extraterrestrial marketplace.

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The capsule carrying the Blue Origin crew accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound before it reached beyond the 80 kilometer boundary (about 262,000 feet) the U.S. uses to mark the edge of space. The crew capsule reached an altitude of 107 kilometers (351,210 feet), and the rocket hit a top speed of 2,233 mph during the launch.


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