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NBC Universal Proves Its Worth In First Quarter With Comcast

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Comcast’s atypical afternoon earnings release highlighted the pluses of gaining control over NBC Universal (NSDQ: CMCSA) — and some of the minuses, too. Formerly known primarily as the largest cable operator with some programming, Comcast now has serious skin in both games. NBC’s prime-time struggles continued to drag, but the cable networks rose 13.3 percent to push past $2 billion in revenue. By comparison, that’s only slightly less than Comcast’s total Q1 take from high speed data.

That includes the cable nets Comcast brought to the deal (E, Versus, etc.) Excluding the impact of the Olympics, Comcast says NBCU would have been up 5 percent on stronger advertising. For a different kind of perspective, NBCU’s total $4.3 billion in revenue is still less than just the video portion of the cable operations. But the cable networks also are growing more than most parts of the cable operations, which is one of the major reasons Comcast wanted NBCU.

The improving economy and Harry Potter did their bit, too, helping theme park revenue rise 16.1 percent. But the theme parks could take a hit in the spring and summer quarters with the average price of gas hovering near $4 a gallon.

We’ll get some color on these numbers when Comcast finishes its earnings with an analyst call first thing in the morning. In the meantime, a few other Q1 bits that stood out:

— One aspect stands out because it isn’t there: no digital content data. The digital properties are folded into NBCU.

— Cable advertising rose 10.4 percent to $455 million.

— The number of video subs dipped 3 percent, to 22.7 million from 23.4 million in the same quarter last year, but HSD and voice customers were up. The combined number of customers across the three service rose 8.3 percent and net adds were up sequentially, too.