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Comcast tops revenue expectation despite weakness at NBCUniversal

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By Helen Coster

Jan 28 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp on Thursday reported better than expected fourth-quarter revenue, as broadband demand continued to offset pandemic-related weakness in its theme park and filmed entertainment businesses.

The media company gained 538,000 broadband subscribers in the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of 488,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt movie ticket sales and theme park attendance in the company’s NBCUniversal segment. But travel restrictions have helped drive demand for services like broadband and streaming video, as people continue to work and entertain themselves at home.

Comcast said it had 33 million sign-ups to its Peacock streaming service, which launched in July.

The company’s NBCUniversal segment, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $7.5 billion, down 18.1% from a year earlier. Revenue at the filmed entertainment unit fell 8.3% from a year earlier due to shuttered and reduced-capacity movie theaters. Broadcast TV revenue fell 12%. Theme parks revenue plummeted 62.9%.

The company said its theme parks division reached break-even in the quarter, excluding the preopening costs for Universal Beijing - which it plans to open this summer - and despite the continued closure of its park in California. Performance at the Florida and Osaka, Japan, parks - which were typically at COVID-19-level capacity during the quarter - helped the division break even, the company said.

Comcast lost 248,000 video customers in the quarter, fewer than the 260,000 loss estimated by FactSet.

The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 56 cents, down 29.1% from the same period a year ago.

It reported fourth-quarter revenue of $27.71 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $26.78 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Helen Coster in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)