Universal theme parks contributed to a profitable 2018 for Comcast, but financial analysts seemed more interested in the company’s upcoming streaming service during its latest earnings call.
Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the new service would be available free to Comcast cable subscribers — with nonsubscribers paying a small monthly fee — starting in 2020.
“This service will be distinct and compelling, offering current and prior season’s library and some original content with a light advertising load all for free to pay TV customers,” Roberts said. “It’s a great value proposition for consumers and provides marketers with unique targetable digital advertising in high-quality premium programming.”
Comcast will face competition from established streaming services like Netflix, Hulu (in which Comcast owns a 30 percent stake), and Amazon Prime Video, as well as Disney+, which is expected to launch this fall.
The little that was said about Universal theme parks on the call was largely positive. Comcast reported a 3 percent increase in theme park earnings for the year, hitting $2.5 billion, with the last quarter of the year helped by a “record Halloween Horror Nights” at the Orlando and Hollywood parks.
Chief financial officer Michael Cavanagh said the company remains “bullish on the outlook for our parks over the next several years,” singling out Orlando developments like the “Harry Potter” roller coaster and the first phase of the 2,800-room Endless Summer Resort.
No mention was made of the long-rumored new theme park to be built on land near the Orange County Convention Center. While Comcast execs have previously confirmed their interest in building another “gate” in Orlando, and the park’s name was reportedly revealed to Comcast employees in December, the only projects mentioned for 2020 and beyond were international expansions.
“We are confident in the long term growth potential at our parks with an exciting road map as our partnership with Nintendo debuts at Universal Studios Japan in 2020 and we bring a brand-new large park to Beijing the next year,” Roberts said.