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Comcast gets boost from NBC Universal

Comcast's NBC Universal division helped boost profits, and the company held its own against phone company competitors as it added more broadband subscribers and lost fewer TV customers.

NBC Universal gave Comcast a boost in the second quarter as the cable operator announced a 16 percent jump in profits.

Comcast also said it lost fewer pay-TV subscribers and saw broadband subscriber growth surge, besting its phone company rivals.

Net income rose to $1.02 billion, or 37 cents a share, from $884 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier, Comcast said in its second quarter earnings statement. Excluding certain costs, profit was up about 17 percent to 42 cents a share.

The company got a boost its NBC Universal unit. The second quarter was the first full quarter that the company has owned its 51 percent stake in the entertainment giant. General Electric still owns the other 49 percent of company.

A pick-up in advertising spending helped boost revenue of Comcast's and NBC's cable-network divisions by about 13 percent. NBC owns channels such as Bravo, MSNBC, and USA, while Comcast already owned E! and the Golf Channel.

In addition to a solid quarter from the newly acquired NBC Universal, Comcast also lost fewer paid TV subscribers. In the second quarter, the company lost 238,000 video subscribers, which is 10 percent fewer than last year, when it lost 265,000. The slowing losses means that Comcast is competing well against telecom competitors AT&T with its U-verse package and Verizon Wireless with Fios TV, as well as satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network. But it also may indicate that it's holding up well against so-called over-the-top Internet video providers, such as Netflix.

Comcast makes the bulk of its money from its cable business, so holding steady on this front is important. The company certainly performed better than fellow cable operator Time Warner Cable, which reported on July 28 that it lost 128,000 basic TV subscribers in the second quarter. This is more than the 111,000 customers it lost in the same quarter a year ago.

Comcast also saw strong growth against the phone companies in broadband, where it added 144,000 high-speed Internet customers, which up from the 118,000 customers it added last year.

"Broadband remains solid, with net subscriber additions up from a year ago, and continuing to trounce the TelCos," Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note. "The core broadband thesis remains intact, with the two largest cable operators (Comcast and Time Warner Cable) adding 211,000 broadband subscribers, more than 4x as many as the 50,000 net additions from Verizon and AT&T combined."