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Comcast beats quarterly revenue estimates fueled by broadband demand

The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California

By Eva Mathews and Helen Coster

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp is on an upswing as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting quarterly revenue ahead of Wall Street estimates on Thursday.

The media giant was buoyed by steady demand for its internet and wireless services thanks to remote working, despite pandemic-related weakness in its theme park and film businesses.

First-quarter revenue rose 2.2% from a year earlier to $27.21 billion, beating analyst estimates of $26.70 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Comcast gained 461,000 broadband customers in the quarter, topping analyst expectations of 396,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet. It lost 491,000 video customers in the quarter, more than the 418,000 Wall Street expected, according to FactSet.

Comcast is experiencing an upturn in movie theater and theme park ticket sales as those venues reopen with limited capacity. The company has also benefited from remote work and e-learning, which have driven demand for broadband and streaming video services.

Comcast said it had 42 million sign-ups to its Peacock streaming service, which launched in July, up from 33 million in the previous quarter. Peacock competes against streaming giants Netflix Inc and Walt Disney Co's Disney+ among others.

The company's NBCUniversal business, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $7.02 billion, down about 9% from a year earlier, owing to pandemic-related delays in production and theatrical releases of big-budget films.

Media revenue rose 3.2%, buoyed by higher affiliate fees and strength in the company's news business even as advertising sales fell during the quarter. On Thursday the company said it expects higher advertising revenue in the second quarter as more sports programming returns to television.

The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 76 cents, beating Wall Street estimates of 59 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Shares of the company were up 3.5% at $55.98 in early trading on Thursday.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Helen Coster in New York; Editing by David Goodman and Steve Orlofsky)