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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
FORM 10-K
(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020
OR
       TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
FOR THE TRANSITION PERIOD FROM                       to                    
https://cdn.kscope.io/0144db67ce9bf87670327c1b68e22204-cmcsa-20201231_g1.jpg
Commission File Number
Registrant; State of Incorporation; Address and
Telephone Number
I.R.S. Employer Identification No.
001-32871
COMCAST CORPORATION
27-0000798
Pennsylvania
One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2838
(215286-1700
SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OF THE ACT:
Title of Each ClassTrading symbol(s)Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Class A Common Stock, $0.01 par value
CMCSA
 
NASDAQ Global Select Market
0.250% Notes due 2027
CMCS27
NASDAQ Global Market
1.500% Notes due 2029
CMCS29
NASDAQ Global Market
0.750% Notes due 2032
CMCS32
NASDAQ Global Market
1.875% Notes due 2036
CMCS36
NASDAQ Global Market
1.250% Notes due 2040
CMCS40
NASDAQ Global Market
9.455% Guaranteed Notes due 2022
CMCSA/22
New York Stock Exchange
5.50% Notes due 2029
CCGBP29
New York Stock Exchange
2.0% Exchangeable Subordinated Debentures due 2029
CCZ
New York Stock Exchange
SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(g) OF THE ACT:
NONE
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act:
Large accelerated filer
Accelerated filer
Non-accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No     
As of June 30, 2020, the aggregate market value of the Comcast Corporation common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $176.648 billion.
Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the registrant’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date:
As of December 31, 2020, there were 4,571,211,797 shares of Comcast Corporation Class A common stock and 9,444,375 shares of Class B common stock outstanding.
 
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Comcast Corporation – Part III – The registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for its annual meeting of shareholders.



Table of Contents
Comcast Corporation
2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K
Table of Contents
PART I
Item 1
Item 1A
Item 1B
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
PART II
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 7A
Item 8
Item 9
Item 9A
PART III
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12
Item 13
Item 14
PART IV
Item 15
Item 16
Explanatory Note
Beginning with our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2020, we are voluntarily complying with new disclosure rules for guarantors and issuers of guaranteed debt securities issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in March 2020, as permitted by the transition guidance contained in the SEC’s final rule release “Financial Disclosures about Guarantors and Issuers of Guaranteed Securities and Affiliates Whose Securities Collateralize a Registrant’s Securities.” As a result, this report includes disclosures related to our consolidated subsidiaries that guarantee or have issued guaranteed debt securities registered with the SEC that are included within our guarantee structure (refer to Guarantee Structure within the Liquidity and Capital Resources section of Item 2: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations). As a result of these rules, NBCUniversal Media, LLC is no longer required to prepare stand-alone periodic reports under SEC rules, and our periodic reports are no longer prepared as a combined report being filed separately by Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media, LLC.




Table of Contents
Unless indicated otherwise, throughout this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we refer to Comcast and its consolidated subsidiaries, as “Comcast,” “we,” “us” and “our;” Comcast Cable Communications, LLC and its consolidated subsidiaries as “Comcast Cable;” Comcast Holdings Corporation as “Comcast Holdings;” NBCUniversal Enterprise, Inc. as “NBCUniversal Enterprise;” NBCUniversal Media, LLC and its consolidated subsidiaries as “NBCUniversal;” and Sky Limited and its consolidated subsidiaries as “Sky.”
This Annual Report on Form 10-K is for the year ended December 31, 2020. This Annual Report on Form 10-K modifies and supersedes documents filed before it. The SEC allows us to “incorporate by reference” information that we file with it, which means that we can disclose important information to you by referring you directly to those documents. Information incorporated by reference is considered to be part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, information that we file with the SEC in the future will automatically update and supersede information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Our registered trademarks include Comcast, NBCUniversal and the Comcast and NBCUniversal logos. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains other trademarks, service marks and trade names owned by us, as well as those owned by others.

 


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Part I
Item 1: Business
We are a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky. We were incorporated under the laws of Pennsylvania in December 2001. Through our predecessors, we have developed, managed and operated cable systems since 1963. Through transactions in 2011 and 2013, we acquired NBCUniversal, and in 2018, we acquired Sky.
We present our operations for (1) Comcast Cable in one reportable business segment, referred to as Cable Communications; (2) NBCUniversal in four reportable business segments: Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment and Theme Parks (collectively, the “NBCUniversal segments”); and (3) Sky in one reportable business segment.
Cable Communications: Consists of the operations of Comcast Cable, which is a leading provider of high-speed internet, video, voice, wireless, and security and automation services to residential customers in the United States under the Xfinity brand; we also provide these and other services to business customers and sell advertising.
Cable Networks: Consists primarily of our national cable networks that provide a variety of entertainment, news and information, and sports content; our regional sports and news networks; our international cable networks; our cable television studio production operations; and various digital properties.
Broadcast Television: Consists primarily of the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, our NBC and Telemundo owned local broadcast television stations, the NBC Universo national cable network, our broadcast television studio production operations, and various digital properties.
Filmed Entertainment: Consists primarily of the operations of Universal Pictures, which produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide; our films are also produced under the Illumination, DreamWorks Animation and Focus Features names.
Theme Parks: Consists primarily of our Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida; Hollywood, California; and Osaka, Japan. In addition, we are developing a theme park in Beijing, China along with a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies, and an additional theme park in Orlando, Florida.
Sky: Consists of the operations of Sky, one of Europe’s leading entertainment companies, which primarily includes a direct-to-consumer business, providing video, high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services, and a content business, operating entertainment networks, the Sky News broadcast network and Sky Sports networks.
Our other business interests consist primarily of the operations of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and other business initiatives, such as Peacock, our new direct-to-consumer streaming service that features NBCUniversal content, which was made available to Comcast customers in April 2020 and launched across the United States in July 2020.
Each of our businesses has been impacted as a result of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic. For a discussion of the risks related to COVID-19, refer to Item 1A: Risk Factors, and for a discussion of the impacts of COVID-19 and for financial and other information about our reportable business segments, refer to Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Available Information and Websites
Our phone number is (215) 286-1700, and our principal executive offices are located at One Comcast Center, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2838. Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and any amendments to such reports filed with or furnished to the SEC under Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), are available free of charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and on our website at www.comcastcorporation.com as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are electronically filed with the SEC. The information posted on our websites is not incorporated into our SEC filings.
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Description of Our Businesses
Cable Communications Segment
Cable Communications offers high-speed internet, video, voice, wireless, and security and automation services in the United States individually and as bundled services at a discounted rate over its cable distribution system to residential and business customers. Revenue is generated primarily from residential and business customers that subscribe to our services and from the sale of advertising. Bundled service offerings aim to meet the needs of various segments of our customer base, ranging from high-speed internet services packaged with video services that include a limited number of channels or streaming services, to a five-product bundle, consisting of high-speed internet, video, voice, wireless, and security and automation services. Subscription rates and related charges vary according to the services and features customers receive and the types of equipment they use, and customers are typically billed in advance on a monthly basis. A portion of our residential customers are subject to minimum-term contracts for their cable services, which are typically 1 to 2 years in length. Substantially all business customers are initially under minimum-term contracts, which typically range from 2 to 5 years. Customers with minimum-term contracts may only discontinue service in accordance with the terms of their contracts.
As of December 31, 2020, Cable Communications had 33.1 million total customer relationships, including 30.7 million residential customer relationships and 2.4 million business customer relationships, and passed more than 59 million homes and businesses. Homes and businesses are considered passed if we can connect them to our cable distribution system without further extending the transmission lines and are estimated based on the best available information. As of December 31, 2020, total customer relationships penetration of homes and businesses passed was 56%.
The Areas We Serve
The map below highlights Cable Communications’ cable distribution footprint as of December 31, 2020 and the designated market areas (“DMAs”) where we have 250,000 or more customer relationships, with the locations that are bolded representing one of the top 25 U.S. television DMAs as of December 31, 2020.
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High-Speed Internet
Cable Communications offers high-speed internet services with downstream speeds that range up to 1.2 gigabit per second (“Gbps”) and fiber-based speeds that range up to 2 Gbps. These services include access to an online portal and mobile apps, which provide users with the ability to manage their home Wi-Fi network, access to advanced security technology and other features including email, an address book and calendar.
Throughout its footprint, Cable Communications deploys wireless gateways to customers that combine an internet and voice modem with a Wi-Fi router to deliver reliable internet speeds and enhanced coverage through an in-and-out-of-home Wi-Fi network. Customers with wireless gateways may also personalize and manage their Wi-Fi network and connected home with the xFi branded whole-home application and online portal, which includes the ability to self-install and set up their Wi-Fi environment, view and change their Wi-Fi password, identify which devices are connected to their in-home network and set parental controls and schedules, along with advanced security and other features. Customers can also choose to extend their Wi-Fi coverage with xFi Pods and have access to our expanding network of secure residential, outdoor and business Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide.
For high-speed internet customers that prefer streaming content over the internet rather than linear cable television, Cable Communications offers Flex, a streaming device that provides access to certain online programming on their television with integrated search functionality, including the use of a voice-activated remote control and personalized recommendations. Flex programming includes our Peacock service and certain other internet-based apps at no additional charge, access to pay-per-view and video on demand content, and access to and the integration of certain third-party direct-to-consumer streaming services (“DTC streaming services”) such as Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and, beginning in 2021, Disney+. We earn commission revenue related to the sale of certain DTC streaming services. Additionally, a variety of music apps such as Pandora are offered through Flex.
As of December 31, 2020, 28.4 million residential customers subscribed to our high-speed internet services.
Video
Cable Communications offers a broad variety of video services, primarily through our X1 platform, an Internet Protocol (“IP”) and cloud-enabled video platform. Video customers have access to hundreds of channels depending on the level of service, which typically range from limited basic service with access to between 20 and 60 channels to full service with access to more than 300 channels. Video services generally include programming provided by national broadcast networks, local broadcast stations, and national and regional cable networks, as well as government and public access programming. Our video services also include access to video on demand services (“On Demand”) and an interactive, on-screen program guide. Our On Demand service provides video customers with access to hundreds of thousands of programming choices included in our library. Other content, primarily movies and special-events programming, such as sporting events and concerts, can be rented or in some cases purchased to own digitally. Customers also receive high-definition (“HD”) video service that provides high-resolution picture quality, improved audio quality and a wide-screen format through an HD set-top box, and a broad selection of HD programming choices. Customers also have the option to subscribe to additional services, including a digital video recorder (“DVR”) service that allows customers to record and store programs and play them at their convenience, including online and through our mobile app, and to pause and rewind live television. Additionally, customers may subscribe to premium networks that generally provide, without commercial interruption, movies, original programming, live and pre-recorded sporting events and concerts, and other features. We also offer video service packages that include extensive amounts of foreign-language programming and other specialty tiers of programming. We tailor our video services for particular programming preferences, demographics and geographic areas in accordance with applicable local and federal regulatory requirements.
Through the X1 platform, customers have integrated search functionality, including the use of a voice-activated remote control; personalized recommendations; and access to and the integration of Peacock, which X1 customers receive for no additional charge, certain third-party DTC streaming services and a variety of other internet-based apps providing content and music.
Customers have access to their video services through the Stream mobile app and an online portal that allow them to view certain live programming and On Demand content and to browse program listings.
As of December 31, 2020, 19.0 million residential customers subscribed to our video services.
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Voice
Cable Communications offers voice services using interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) technology. Service options provided include either unlimited or usage-based local and domestic long-distance calling, as well as options for international calling plans, voicemail, readable voicemail, nuisance call blocking tools and various call features such as caller ID and call waiting. Voice services also include the ability to access and manage voicemail and other account features through an online portal or mobile app.
As of December 31, 2020, 9.6 million residential customers subscribed to our voice services.
Wireless
Cable Communications offers wireless services for handsets, tablets and smart watches using mobile virtual network operator (“MVNO”) rights to provide the services over Verizon’s wireless network and our existing network of in-home and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots. We currently only offer these services as part of our bundled service offerings to residential customers that subscribe to high-speed internet service within our cable distribution footprint and to a limited group of small business high-speed internet customers on similar terms. Customers may choose to pay for services on an unlimited data plan, shared data plans, or per gigabyte of data used. Customers have the ability to bring their own device or purchase them from us with the option to pay upfront or finance the purchase interest-free over 24 months.
As of December 31, 2020, there were 2.8 million activated wireless lines that were subscribed to our wireless services. Individual customer relationships may have multiple lines.
Business Services
Cable Communications offers a variety of products and services to businesses. High-speed internet services provide downstream speeds that range up to 1 Gbps and fiber-based speeds that range up to 100 Gbps. Our service offerings for small business locations primarily include high-speed internet services, as well as voice and video services, that are similar to those provided to residential customers, cloud-based cybersecurity services, wireless backup connectivity, advanced Wi-Fi solutions, video monitoring services and cloud-based services that provide file sharing, online backup and web conferencing, among other features. We also offer Ethernet network services that connect multiple locations and provide higher downstream and upstream speed options to medium-sized customers and larger enterprises, as well as advanced voice services, along with video solutions that serve hotels and other large venues. In addition, we provide cellular backhaul services to mobile network operators to help them manage their network bandwidth.
Cable Communications has expanded its service offerings to include a software-defined networking product for medium-sized and enterprise customers. Larger enterprises may also receive support services related to Wi-Fi networks, router management, network security, business continuity risks and other services. These service offerings are primarily provided to Fortune 1000 companies and other large enterprises with multiple locations both within and outside of Cable Communications’ cable distribution footprint, where we have agreements with other companies to use their networks to provide coverage outside of our service areas.
Advertising
As part of Cable Communications’ distribution agreements with cable networks, we generally receive an allocation of scheduled advertising time that is sold through our advertising business to local, regional and national advertisers. In most cases, the available advertising units are sold by our sales force. In some cases, we work with representation firms as an extension of our sales force to sell a portion of the advertising units allocated to us. Cable Communications also represents the advertising sales efforts of other multichannel video providers in some markets. In addition, we generate revenue from the sale of advertising on our digital platforms. We also provide technology, tools, data-driven services and marketplace solutions to customers in the media industry, which allow advertisers to more effectively engage with their target audiences.
Other
Cable Communications offers security and automation services that provide home monitoring services and the ability to manage other functions within the home, such as lighting and room temperature, through our online portal, mobile apps or the X1 platform. We also license our technology platforms to other multichannel video providers.
Technology
Cable Communications’ cable distribution system uses a hybrid fiber-optic and coaxial cable network that we believe is sufficiently flexible and scalable to support our future technology requirements. This network provides the two-way transmissions that are essential to providing high-speed internet services, interactive video services such as On Demand, voice services, and security and automation services.
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Cable Communications continues to focus on technology initiatives to design, develop and deploy next-generation media and content delivery platforms, such as the X1 platform and related cloud DVR technology, and Flex, which use IP technology and our own cloud network servers to deliver video and advanced search capabilities, including through a voice-activated remote control, and that provide access to certain DTC streaming services.
Cable Communications continues to deploy 1 Gbps high-speed internet services that leverage DOCSIS 3.1 technology across its footprint and will continue to expand the capacity of its DOCSIS 3.1 infrastructure, including the implementation of DOCSIS FDX that will enable multi-gigabit services to be launched through our hybrid fiber-optic and coaxial cable network.
Sources of Supply
Cable Communications licenses software products for our high-speed internet services, such as email and security software, and content, such as news feeds for its online portal, from a variety of suppliers. Under the contracts with these suppliers, we generally pay on a fixed-fee basis, on a per subscriber basis in the case of software product licenses or on a video advertising revenue share basis in the case of content licenses.
To offer video services, Cable Communications licenses a substantial portion of programming from cable and broadcast networks, as well as from local broadcast television stations. We attempt to secure long-term programming distribution agreements with these programming providers. The fees associated with these programming distribution agreements are generally based on the number of subscribers who are able to watch the programming and the platforms on which the content is provided. We seek to include in distribution agreements the rights to offer such programming through multiple delivery platforms, such as through our On Demand service, online portal, mobile apps and streaming services.
For voice services, software products such as voicemail and text messaging are licensed from a variety of suppliers under multiyear contracts. The fees paid are generally based on the consumption of the related services.
For wireless services, we have an MVNO agreement that allows us to offer services using Verizon’s wireless network and we purchase from a limited number of suppliers a significant number of wireless handsets, tablets and smart watches that we sell to wireless customers.
Cable Communications purchases from a limited number of suppliers a significant number of set-top boxes and certain other customer premise equipment, network equipment and services to provide services to residential and business customers.
Cable Communications uses two primary vendors to provide customer billing for our residential and business customers.
Customer and Technical Services
Cable Communications’ customer service teams provide 24/7 call-answering capability, telemarketing and other services. Our technical services group performs various tasks, including installations, plant maintenance and upgrades to its cable distribution system.
Sales and Marketing
Cable Communications offers services directly to residential and business customers through its customer service teams, retail stores, customer service centers, websites, door-to-door selling, telemarketing, and third-party outlets, as well as through advertising via direct mail, television and the internet.
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NBCUniversal Segments
NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies that develops, produces and distributes entertainment, news and information, sports, and other content for global audiences, and owns and operates theme parks worldwide.
Cable Networks
Cable Networks consists of a diversified portfolio of national cable networks that provide a variety of entertainment, news and information, and sports content; regional sports and news networks; international cable networks and cable television studio production operations. It also owns various digital properties, which include brand-aligned websites.
The table below presents a summary of NBCUniversal’s national cable networks and their advertising reach to U.S. households.
Cable Network
Approximate U.S.
Households as of
December 31, 2020
(in millions)(a)
Description of Programming
USA Network86 General entertainment
E!84 Entertainment and pop culture
Syfy84 Imagination-based entertainment
Bravo83 Entertainment, culture and arts
MSNBC83 News, political commentary and information
CNBC82 Business and financial news
NBC Sports Network80 Sports
Oxygen71 Crime, mystery and suspense for women
Golf Channel68 Golf competition and golf entertainment
Universal Kids54 Children’s entertainment
The Olympic Channel41 Olympic sports events and Olympic-themed original content
CNBC World 27 Global financial news
(a)Household data is based on The Nielsen Company’s December 2020 Household Universe Estimate report. The Nielsen report includes estimates based on subscribers to both traditional and certain virtual multichannel video providers. The Nielsen report is not based on information provided by us and is included solely to permit comparisons between our cable networks and those operated by our peers. We understand that the Nielsen Company’s ability to collect in-home data may have been disrupted as a result of COVID-19, which may have impacted its estimated household data as of December 2020.
Our regional sports and news networks together serve more than 25 million households across the United States, including in markets such as Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento and San Francisco.
Revenue is generated primarily from the distribution and licensing of programming and from the sale of advertising on our networks and digital properties. We market and distribute cable network programming in the United States and internationally to multichannel video providers, including both traditional providers of linear programming and virtual providers who provide streaming services for linear programming. These distributors may provide the content on television, including via video on demand services, online and through mobile apps.
Cable Networks programming includes owned content and content licensed from third parties, including sports rights that are discussed below under the heading “Broadcast Television.” NBCUniversal’s cable television studio production operations identify, develop and produce original content for our own cable networks and third parties. We license owned content to cable and broadcast networks and to DTC streaming service providers, including Peacock. We also sell owned content on standard-definition DVDs and Blu-ray discs (together, “DVDs”) and through digital distribution services such as iTunes.
Broadcast Television
Broadcast Television operates the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, which together reach viewers and advertisers in all 50 states, as well as our owned NBC and Telemundo local broadcast television stations, the NBC Universo national cable network, broadcast television studio production operations, and various digital properties, which primarily include brand-aligned websites. Revenue is generated primarily from the sale of advertising on our networks and digital properties, from licensing content, and from the fees received under retransmission consent agreements and associated fees received from NBC-affiliated and Telemundo-affiliated local broadcast television stations.
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NBC Network
The NBC network distributes entertainment, news and sports programming that reaches viewers in virtually all U.S. television households through more than 200 affiliated stations across the United States, including NBCUniversal’s 11 owned NBC-affiliated local broadcast television stations. The NBC network’s programming library consists of rights of varying nature to more than 100,000 episodes of popular television content, including current and classic titles, unscripted programming, sports, news, long-form and short-form programming, and locally produced programming from around the world.
The NBC network programming includes owned content and content licensed from third parties. NBCUniversal has various contractual commitments for the licensing of rights to multiyear programming, primarily sports rights. The most significant sports rights commitments include the U.S. broadcast rights for the summer and winter Olympic Games through 2032 and agreements with the NFL to produce and broadcast a specified number of regular season and playoff games, including Sunday Night Football through the 2022-23 season and the Super Bowl in 2022. We also have U.S. broadcast rights to a specified number of NHL games through the 2020-21 season, English Premier League soccer through the 2021-22 season, certain NASCAR events through 2024 and certain PGA TOUR and other golf events through 2030. NBCUniversal’s sports rights agreements also include the rights to distribute content on our national cable networks, including the NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel, on our regional sports networks, online, including through mobile apps, and on Peacock.
The broadcast television studio production operations develop and produce original content, including scripted and unscripted television series and talk shows. We license this content to broadcast networks, cable networks and local broadcast television stations owned by NBCUniversal and third parties, as well as to DTC streaming service providers, including Peacock, and it is sold on DVDs and through digital distribution services both in the United States and internationally. The broadcast television studio production operations also produce first-run syndicated shows for local markets that are broadcast on local broadcast television stations in the United States on a market-by-market basis. We also license some of our content after the initial broadcast, as well as older television programs from the library, to local broadcast television stations and cable networks in the off-network syndication market.
NBC Local Broadcast Television Stations
As of December 31, 2020, NBCUniversal owned and operated 11 NBC-affiliated local broadcast television stations, including stations in 8 of the top 10 general markets, that collectively reached approximately 30 million U.S. television households and represent approximately 29% of U.S. television households. In addition to broadcasting the NBC network’s national programming, our local broadcast television stations produce news, sports, public affairs and other content that addresses local needs and license content from other sources.
Telemundo
Telemundo is a leading Hispanic media company that produces, licenses and distributes Spanish-language content in the United States and internationally. Telemundo’s operations include the Telemundo network, 30 owned local broadcast television stations and the NBC Universo national cable network.
The Telemundo network is a leading Spanish-language broadcast network featuring original telenovelas, movies, news, specials and sporting events. Telemundo produces original content through its production studio and also licenses the rights to use content owned by third parties. We license the Spanish-language U.S. broadcast rights to FIFA World Cup soccer through 2026.
Telemundo Local Broadcast Television Stations
As of December 31, 2020, Telemundo owned 30 local broadcast television stations affiliated with the Telemundo network, including an independent television station in Puerto Rico and stations in 19 of the top 20 U.S. Hispanic markets, which collectively reached approximately 72% of U.S. Hispanic television households as of December 31, 2020.
Filmed Entertainment
Filmed Entertainment primarily produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide. It also includes Fandango, a movie ticketing and entertainment business, our consumer products business and our live stage production business. We also distribute filmed entertainment produced by third parties.
Filmed Entertainment produces content both alone and jointly with other studios or production companies, as well as with other entities. NBCUniversal’s films are produced primarily under the Universal Pictures, Illumination, DreamWorks Animation and Focus Features names. Films are marketed and distributed worldwide primarily through NBCUniversal’s own marketing and distribution operations. Filmed Entertainment also acquires distribution rights to films produced by others, which may be limited to particular geographic regions, specific forms of media or certain periods of time. Filmed Entertainment’s content
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includes theatrical films, direct-to-video movies and a film library, which is comprised of more than 5,000 movies in a variety of genres.
Filmed Entertainment has entered into, and may continue to enter into, film cofinancing arrangements with third parties, including both studio and nonstudio entities, to jointly finance or distribute certain of our film productions. These arrangements can take various forms, but in most cases involve the grant of an economic interest in a film to an investor. Investors generally assume the full risks and rewards of ownership proportionate to their ownership in the film.
The majority of our films are initially distributed for exhibition in movie theaters. Beginning in 2020, certain titles are also made available for viewing on demand following a shortened theatrical release window. After their initial release, we sell and license films through various methods. We distribute films globally by selling them on DVDs to retail stores and rental kiosks, and through digital distribution services. We also license films, including selections from the film library, to cable, broadcast and premium networks, to DTC streaming service providers, including Peacock, and to video on demand and pay-per-view services provided by multichannel video providers, including the Cable Communications and Sky segments. The number of films licensed through DTC streaming service providers is increasing as consumers continue to seek additional ways to view Filmed Entertainment’s content.
Theme Parks
Theme Parks consists primarily of Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida; Hollywood, California; and Osaka, Japan. Universal Orlando includes two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and our water park, Volcano Bay. Universal Orlando also includes Universal CityWalk Orlando, a dining, retail and entertainment complex, and features on-site themed hotels in which we own a noncontrolling interest. We are developing an additional theme park at Universal Orlando named Universal’s Epic Universe; however, we have temporarily delayed construction in response to COVID-19. The Universal theme park in Hollywood, California consists primarily of Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as Universal CityWalk Hollywood. The Universal theme park in Osaka, Japan consists primarily of Universal Studios Japan. We are also developing Universal Beijing Resort, a theme park in Beijing, China, along with a consortium of Chinese state-owned companies that we expect will open in 2021. In addition, Theme Parks licenses the right to use the Universal Studios brand name and other intellectual property, and also provides other services, to third parties that own and operate the Universal Studios Singapore theme park on Sentosa Island, Singapore.
Revenue is generated primarily from guest spending at Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida; Hollywood, California; and Osaka, Japan. Theme Parks licenses the right to use a substantial amount of intellectual property from third parties for its themed elements in rides, attractions and merchandising.
Sky Segment
Sky is one of Europe’s leading entertainment companies operating in six territories, including three of the largest pay television markets in Western Europe: the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany. The majority of revenue is derived from Sky’s direct-to-consumer business, which has 23.9 million customer relationships, and primarily involves the distribution of a wide array of video channels to both residential and business customers. Sky owns a diverse portfolio of pay television channels that offer entertainment, news, sports and movies, which are included in Sky’s subscription video services and are also licensed through various distribution partnerships to third-party video providers that reach an additional 3.7 million households. Sky also provides high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services in select countries. Sky’s video, high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services may be purchased individually or in bundles.
Video
Sky’s direct-to-consumer video services include a direct-to-home (“DTH”) video service delivered through a combination of both satellite transmission and broadband connection and are marketed under the Sky brand in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Germany and Austria. Sky also offers a DTC streaming service providing video content over the internet which is marketed as a distinct brand in these countries, as well as in Switzerland.
Sky’s DTH video service is sold directly to customers in packages that include a diverse selection of Sky’s owned entertainment and sports channels, channels owned by third parties and local free-to-air public broadcasting channels. In addition to live-linear content, Sky’s platform also provides access to On Demand and current and prior season libraries for certain television shows. Sky’s service offerings are tailored by country, with separate packages offered in each market. Basic packages include over 90 pay television channels in the United Kingdom and Ireland, over 50 channels in Italy, and over 25 channels in Germany and Austria. Specialty tiers for children’s, sports, movie and HD programming are available for additional
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fees. Sky’s services also have pay-per-view programming for certain live sporting events and allow customers, as well as those without a subscription, to buy or rent programming for a fee.
Sky’s DTH video service is primarily distributed to customers through a set-top box video platform, including through Sky Q, which is Sky’s next-generation video platform. Customers have the ability to record several shows at once, to download content and recordings to watch offline on compatible devices, and for Sky Q households, to pause programming in one room and continue watching in another. Through the Sky Q platform, customers have integrated search functionality, including the use of a voice-activated remote control; personalized recommendations; and access to and the integration of content from DTC streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Discovery+, Disney+, Netflix and YouTube, and a variety of other internet-based apps providing content and music.
Sky’s DTC streaming service offers packages for purchase ranging from daily to monthly access to entertainment, sports, movies and children’s programming. The entertainment package includes Sky’s owned entertainment channels and a broad range of On Demand programming series. The sports package provides access to Sky’s owned sports channels and the movie package includes access to a library of films. The children’s package includes thousands of hours of child-friendly on demand programming.
Other than those who subscribe to Sky’s DTC streaming service, customers generally are required to subscribe for an initial contractual term of at least 1 year and may only discontinue service in accordance with the terms of their contracts. Subscription rates and related charges vary according to the services and features customers receive and the types of equipment they use, and customers are typically billed in advance on a monthly basis.
Television Channels
Sky’s owned entertainment channels include Sky One, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom and Ireland; Sky Atlantic, Sky Uno and Sky Arte in Italy; and Sky Atlantic and Sky 1 in Germany and Austria. Sky also owns premium sports channels under the Sky Sports brand and premium movie channels under the Sky Cinema brand, including family and children’s movie channels. Sky also broadcasts several Sky branded free-to-air channels, including Sky News and Sky Arts in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Sky TG24 in Italy and Sky Sport News in Germany.
Sky licenses the rights to use content for owned channels from third parties, in some cases on an exclusive basis. Sky has various contractual commitments for the licensing of rights to multiyear programming, primarily sports rights and exclusive entertainment content. Our most significant sports rights commitments include the U.K. broadcast rights for English Premier League soccer games through 2022; German broadcast rights to Bundesliga through 2025 and Union des Associations Européennes de Football Champions League (“UCL”) through 2021; and Italian broadcast rights to UCL and Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A through 2021. Our most significant commitments for the license of entertainment content include exclusive rights with HBO, Showtime, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal and Sony. Sky is also increasingly creating and investing in original scripted content that is broadcast across all of its territories and sold to other markets.
In addition to including owned channels as part of its video services, Sky distributes some of its owned channels on third-party platforms through both wholesale arrangements and arrangements with partners who distribute Sky’s owned channels as agents to their respective customer bases. Additionally, Sky licenses owned and licensed content to third-party video providers and Peacock.
Advertising
Sky sells advertising and sponsorships across its owned television channels and where it represents the sales efforts of third-party channels. Sky also sells advertising on its digital platforms and offers various technology, tools and solutions relating to its advertising business.
Other Services
Sky offers high-speed internet and voice services in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sky offers fiber-to-the-cabinet, standard copper digital subscriber line (“DSL”) broadband and fiber-to-the-home (“FTTH”) services, with download speeds up to 160 megabits per second in the United Kingdom and up to 1 Gbps in Ireland. In the United Kingdom, Sky uses a combination of its own core fiber network and wholesaling arrangements over third-party telecommunication providers’ networks as the core network and also accesses the “last mile” network from third-party network operators for a fee to provide its services to customers. In Italy, Sky launched FTTH services in June 2020 using Open Fiber’s network to provide high-speed internet access and voice services. Sky offers wireless phone services to customers in the United Kingdom using a combination of its own core fiber network and an arrangement to access network assets from Telefónica.
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Technology and Sources of Supply
For a majority of customers, Sky’s DTH video platform is delivered via one-way digital satellite transmission for the distribution of linear television channels, augmented by a set-top box with local DVR storage and high speed two-way broadband connectivity to provide access to a broad range of On Demand and other services. The Sky platform also incorporates Wi-Fi connectivity for in-home distribution enabling wireless multi-room consumption, and Sky has also developed a range of back-end and client software applications that provide customers with access to its content across multiple third-party devices and On Demand in and out of the home. Sky’s DTC streaming service is delivered via the internet.
Sky continues to focus on technology initiatives to design, develop and deploy next-generation media and content delivery platforms, including Sky Q and Sky’s DTC streaming service, that deliver video content, provide advanced search capabilities, including through a voice-activated remote control, and provide access to certain other DTC streaming services.
Sky relies on various telecommunications providers to deliver video, high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services to its customers. For example, Sky relies on satellites leased from third parties to provide most of its video services. In addition, pursuant to the current regulatory regime in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, Sky is able to access networks owned by third-party telecommunication providers for a fee to provide its high-speed internet and voice services in many cases, on regulated terms. Additionally, Sky purchases from a limited number of suppliers a significant number of set-top boxes and certain other customer premise equipment to provide its video and high-speed internet services. Sky also purchases from a limited number of suppliers a significant number of wireless handsets, tablets and smart watches that are sold to customers who receive our wireless phone services.
To offer video services, in addition to its owned channels, Sky licenses programming from third-parties that operate television channels. Sky attempts to secure long-term programming distribution agreements with these providers. The fees associated with these distribution agreements are generally based on the number of customers who are able to watch the programming and the platforms on which Sky provides the content. Sky seeks to include in distribution agreements the rights to offer such programming through multiple delivery platforms, such as through On Demand services, mobile apps and DTC streaming services.
Customer and Home Services
Sky’s customer service operations are increasingly a digital first offering. The home service group performs various tasks, including installing, servicing and performing upgrades of customer premise equipment.
Sales and Marketing
Sky offers direct-to-consumer services to retail customers through customer service call centers, websites, telemarketing, a limited number of retail outlets, as well as through advertising via direct mail, television and the internet.
Corporate and Other
Our other business interests consist primarily of the operations of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and other business initiatives, including Peacock.
Peacock is our new premium ad-supported direct-to-consumer video on demand streaming service featuring NBCUniversal content including exclusive Peacock originals, current NBC and Telemundo shows, news, late-night comedy, live sports and a library of television shows and movies, providing customers access to tens of thousands of hours of programming. Customers have the choice of three tiers of service: a free, ad-supported version; a subscription based, ad-supported version with access to all Peacock content; and a similar subscription-based, ad-free version. The subscription-based, ad-supported version is offered to Cable Communications X1 and Flex customers and similar customers at Cox Communications for no additional charge. In addition to NBCUniversal’s owned content, Peacock also includes content licensed from third parties.
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Competition
All of our businesses operate in intensely competitive, consumer-driven and rapidly changing environments and compete with a growing number of companies that provide a broad range of communications products and services, and entertainment, news and information content to consumers. Technological changes are further intensifying and complicating the competitive landscape and challenging existing business models. In particular, consumers are increasingly turning to online sources for viewing and purchasing content, which has and likely will continue to reduce the number of our video customers and subscribers to our cable networks even as it makes high-speed internet services more important to consumers. In addition, the increasing number of entertainment choices available to consumers has intensified audience fragmentation and disaggregated the way that content traditionally has been viewed by consumers. This increase has caused and likely will continue to cause audience ratings declines at our programming channels.
Cable Communications Segment
Competition for Cable Communications’ services consists primarily of phone companies with fiber-based networks and direct broadcast satellite (“DBS”) providers that typically offer features, pricing and packaging for services comparable to ours.
High-Speed Internet
Cable Communications competes with a number of companies offering internet services, including:
wireline phone companies and other providers of wireline internet service
wireless phone companies and other providers of wireless internet service
municipal broadband networks and power companies
satellite broadband providers
Phone companies such as AT&T, Frontier, Lumen and Verizon have built and are continuing to build fiber-based network infrastructure farther into their networks, which allows them to provide data transmission speeds that exceed those that can be provided with traditional DSL technology, and are offering these higher-speed services in many of our service areas. Certain companies that offer DSL service have increased data transmission speeds, lowered prices or created bundled services to compete with our high-speed internet services.
Certain other companies have launched FTTH networks that provide high-speed internet services in a limited number of areas in which we operate, and certain municipalities in our service areas are also building fiber-based networks.
Various wireless companies are offering internet services using a variety of network types, including 3G and 4G, and 5G which continues to be available only in limited locations, wireless broadband services and Wi-Fi networks. These networks work with devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and mobile and fixed wireless routers, as well as wireless data cards. Numerous local governments are also considering or actively pursuing publicly subsidized Wi-Fi and other internet access networks. The availability of wireless and other offerings could negatively impact the demand for our high-speed internet services.
Video
Cable Communications competes with a number of different sources in the United States that provide news, sports, information and entertainment programming to consumers, including:
DBS providers, including AT&T’s DIRECTV and DISH Network, that transmit satellite signals to substantially all U.S. households to provide video programming and other information similar to our video services
phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon, that have built and continue to build fiber-based networks that provide services similar to ours, which overlap a substantial portion of our service areas, and that in some cases provide bundled offerings that include wireless phone services
DTC streaming and other over-the-top (“OTT”) service providers including:
subscription-based services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu and Netflix, that offer online services and devices that enable internet streaming and downloading of movies, television shows and other video programming
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virtual multichannel video providers who offer streaming services for linear programming that generally involve smaller packages of programming networks at prices lower than our traditional video service package offerings
other providers that build and operate wireline communications systems in the same communities that we serve, including those operating as franchised cable operators
satellite master antenna television systems that offer to their subscribers both improved reception of local broadcast television stations and much of the programming offered by our cable systems and generally serve multiple dwelling units (“MDUs”), office complexes and residential developments
other companies, such as local broadcast television stations, that provide multiple channels of free over-the-air programming, as well as video rental services and home entertainment and gaming products
Many of these competitors also have significant financial resources and have further intensified competition through mergers and acquisitions.
Voice
Cable Communications competes with wireline and wireless phone companies, including incumbent local exchange carriers (“ILECs”) and competitive local exchange carriers (“CLECs”), and other internet-based and VoIP service providers. Certain phone companies, such as the ILECs AT&T and Verizon, have longstanding customer relationships, and extensive existing facilities and network rights-of-way. A few CLECs also have existing local networks and significant financial resources. In addition, we are increasingly competing with other phone service providers as customers replace traditional wireline phone services with wireless and internet-based phone services.
Wireless
Cable Communications competes with national wireless phone service providers in the United States, including AT&T and Verizon, which offer wireless service on both a standalone basis or along with other services as bundled offerings, as well as regional providers of wireless communications services.
Business Services
Cable Communications primarily competes with a variety of phone companies, including ILECs and CLECs and wide area network managed service providers. These companies either operate their own network infrastructure or use all or part of another carrier’s network. We also compete with satellite operators who offer video services to businesses and VoIP companies that target businesses of all sizes. Our video monitoring services compete with companies that provide video surveillance services that use both traditional and cloud-based/digital solutions.
NBCUniversal Segments
Cable Networks and Broadcast Television
NBCUniversal’s cable networks, broadcast networks and owned local broadcast television stations compete for viewers’ attention and audience share with all forms of programming provided to viewers, including cable, broadcast and premium networks; DTC streaming and other OTT service providers; local broadcast television stations; home entertainment products; pay-per-view and video on demand services; online activities, such as social networking and viewing user-generated content; gaming products; and other forms of entertainment, news and information.
NBCUniversal’s cable networks, broadcast networks and owned local broadcast television stations compete for the acquisition of content and for on-air and creative talent with other cable and broadcast networks, DTC streaming service providers, and local television stations. The market for content is very competitive, particularly for sports rights, where the cost for such content is significant.
NBCUniversal’s cable networks compete with other cable networks and programming providers for carriage of their programming by multichannel video providers and DTC streaming and other OTT service providers. Our broadcast networks compete with the other broadcast networks in markets across the United States to secure affiliations with independently owned television stations, which are necessary to ensure the effective distribution of broadcast network programming to a nationwide audience.
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In addition, NBCUniversal’s cable television and broadcast television studio production operations compete with other production companies and creators of content for the acquisition of story properties, for creative, performing and technical personnel, and for distribution of, and consumer interest in, their content.
Filmed Entertainment
Filmed Entertainment competes for audiences for films and other entertainment content with other major studios and independent film producers, as well as with alternative forms of entertainment. The competitive position of Filmed Entertainment primarily depends on the number of films produced, their distribution and marketing success, and consumer response. Filmed Entertainment also competes to obtain creative, performing and technical talent, including writers, actors, directors and producers, as well as scripts for films. We also compete with the other major studios and other producers of entertainment content for the exhibition of films in theaters and on demand, and the distribution of films on premium networks, and with DTC streaming and other OTT service providers.
Theme Parks
Theme Parks competes with other multi-park entertainment companies as well as other providers of entertainment, lodging, tourism and recreational activities. To help maintain the competitiveness of our theme parks, we have invested and continue to invest significant amounts in existing and new theme park attractions, hotels and infrastructure, including the new theme parks in Beijing, China and Orlando, Florida.
Sky Segment
Sky competes with a broad range of companies engaged in media, entertainment and communications services in Europe. For video services, Sky competes with cable operators, providers of both paid-for and free-to-air programming, other satellite television providers, digital terrestrial television providers, content aggregators, home entertainment products companies, and other suppliers and providers of news, information, sports and entertainment that deliver DTC and other OTT streaming services. For high-speed internet and wireless services, Sky also competes with service providers making use of new fiber optic networks, telecommunications providers, other internet service providers and companies developing new technologies and devices. Sky’s competitive position may be negatively impacted by an increase in the capacity of, or developments in, the means of delivery competitors use to provide their services as well as lowered prices, product innovations, new technologies or different value creation approaches. Sky also competes with organizations that are publicly funded, in whole or in part, to fulfill a public service broadcasting mandate.
Sky’s owned channels compete for the acquisition of programming content with a wide range of providers, particularly for sports rights, where the cost for such programming is significant.
Advertising
Cable Communications, Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Sky and Peacock compete for the sale of advertising with other television networks and stations, as well as with all other advertising platforms, such as digital, radio and print media. The willingness of advertisers to purchase advertising from us may be adversely affected by lower audience ratings at the related networks, stations or channels. Declines in audience ratings can be caused by increased competition for the leisure time of viewers and by audience fragmentation resulting from the increasing number of entertainment choices available, including content from DTC streaming and other OTT service providers, online media and other digital sources. In addition, advertising revenue is adversely affected by the growing use of technologies, such as DVRs and video on demand services, which give consumers greater flexibility to watch programming on a time-delayed or on-demand basis or to fast-forward or skip advertisements within programming.
Seasonality and Cyclicality
Each of our businesses is typically subject to seasonal and cyclical variations. Cable Communications’ results are impacted by the seasonal nature of residential customers receiving our services in college and vacation markets. This generally results in fewer net customer relationship additions in the second quarter of each year.
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Revenue and operating costs and expenses (comprised of total costs and expenses, excluding depreciation and amortization expense and other operating gains) are cyclical as a result of our periodic broadcasts of major sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, which affect Cable Networks and Broadcast Television, and the Super Bowl, which affects Broadcast Television. In particular, advertising revenue increases due to increased demand for advertising time for these events and distribution revenue increases in the period of broadcasts of the Olympic Games. Operating costs and expenses also increase as a result of our production costs for these broadcasts and the amortization of the related rights fees.
Revenue in Cable Communications, Cable Networks, Broadcast Television and Sky is also subject to cyclical advertising patterns and changes in viewership levels. Advertising revenue in the United States is generally higher in the second and fourth quarters of each year and in even-numbered years due to increases in consumer advertising in the spring and in the period leading up to and including the holiday season and advertising related to candidates running for political office and issue-oriented advertising, respectively. Revenue in Cable Networks and Broadcast Television fluctuates depending on the timing of when our programming is aired, which typically results in higher advertising revenue in the second and fourth quarters of each year. Advertising revenue at Sky typically has seasonally higher audience levels in winter months and increased competition in the summer during major sporting events where public service broadcasters lease the rights, such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World CupTM.
Revenue in Filmed Entertainment fluctuates due to the timing, nature and number of films released in movie theaters, on DVDs, and through various other distribution platforms, including viewing on demand. Release dates are determined by several factors, including competition and the timing of vacation and holiday periods. As a result, revenue tends to be seasonal, with increases experienced each year during the summer months and around the holiday season. Content licensing revenue in Cable Networks, Broadcast Television and Filmed Entertainment also fluctuates due to the timing of when our content is made available to licensees.
Revenue in Theme Parks fluctuates with changes in theme park attendance that typically result from the seasonal nature of vacation travel and weather variations, local entertainment offerings and the opening of new attractions, as well as with changes in currency exchange rates. Theme Parks generally experiences peak attendance during the spring holiday period, the summer months when schools are closed and the Christmas holiday season.
Sky’s results are impacted by the seasonal nature of residential customers receiving our DTH and DTC streaming services, including the start of the new soccer seasons and the Christmas holiday. This generally results in greater net customer relationship additions and higher subscriber acquisition costs in the second half of each year due to higher marketing expenses.
Exclusive sports rights, such as European soccer, play a key role within Sky’s wider content strategy. In Europe, broadcasting rights for major sports are usually tendered through a competitive auction process, with the winning bidder or bidders acquiring rights over a three to five-year period. This creates some level of cyclicality for Sky, although the staggered timing of major sports rights auctions usually gives Sky time to react to any material changes in the competitive dynamics of the prevailing market. Certain of Sky’s significant sports rights agreements require payments at the start of each season, resulting in increases in sports rights payments in the third and fourth quarter of each year.
Legislation and Regulation
While all of our businesses are subject to various federal, state, and local laws and regulations, compliance with certain laws and regulations is most material with respect to our Cable Communications and Broadcast Television businesses in the United States. Specifically, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Communications Act”), and Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) regulations and policies affect significant aspects of our cable communications and broadcast businesses in the United States, and these businesses are also subject to other regulation by federal, state and local authorities. In addition, our international businesses are subject to the laws and the jurisdiction of the foreign regulatory authorities where they operate.
Beyond any significant regulations summarized below, legislators and regulators at all levels of government frequently consider changing, and sometimes do change, existing statutes, rules or regulations, or interpretations of existing statutes, rules or regulations, or prescribe new ones, any of which may significantly affect our businesses and ability to effectively compete. These legislators and regulators have been active in considering rulemakings and legislation, at times looking to adopt regulatory approaches from different countries that may be more burdensome, and they, along with some state attorneys general and foreign governmental authorities, have also been active in conducting inquiries and reviews, regarding our services. State legislative and regulatory initiatives can create a patchwork of different and/or conflicting state requirements, such as with respect to privacy and open internet/net neutrality regulations, that can affect our business operations and further constrain our ability to compete.
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Legislative and regulatory activity may increase with the change in administration following the 2020 U.S. presidential election. For example, the U.S. Congress may consider proposals that address communications issues, including whether it should rewrite the entire Communications Act to account for changes in the communications marketplace, whether it should enact new, permanent open internet/net neutrality requirements, and whether it should fund new broadband infrastructure or broadband connectivity initiatives. Any of these regulations could significantly affect our business and compliance costs. In addition, United States and foreign regulators and courts could adopt new interpretations of existing competition laws or enact new competition laws or regulatory tools that could negatively impact our businesses. With the change in administration, tax legislation could be enacted increasing the federal corporate income tax from the current rate of 21%. Any future legislative, judicial, regulatory or administrative actions may increase our costs or impose additional restrictions on our businesses, some of which may be significant. We are unable to predict the outcome or effects of any of these potential actions or any other legislative or regulatory proposals on our businesses.
The following paragraphs summarize the significant legal and regulatory requirements affecting our businesses.
Communications-Related Regulations in the United States
High-Speed Internet
Our high-speed internet services are subject to a number of regulations and commitments. The FCC frequently considers imposing new broadband-related regulations such as those relating to an Open Internet. States and localities also consider new broadband-related regulations, including those regarding government-owned broadband networks, net neutrality and connectivity during COVID-19. New broadband regulations, if adopted, may have adverse effects on our businesses. In addition, as an internet service provider (“ISP”), we must implement certain network capabilities to assist law enforcement in conducting surveillance of persons suspected of criminal activity. From time to time, the FCC considers imposing new regulatory obligations on ISPs.
Open Internet Regulations
Various forms of Open Internet regulations can significantly affect our high-speed internet services. In 2017, the FCC reversed its prior classification of broadband internet access service as a Title II “telecommunications service” under the Communications Act and classified it as an “information service” under Title I. In addition, it eliminated its prior “net neutrality” rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking access to lawful content on the internet; impairing or degrading lawful internet traffic on the basis of content, applications or services (“throttling”); prioritizing certain internet traffic in exchange for consideration or in favor of an affiliate (“paid or affiliated prioritization”); and generally prohibiting ISPs from unreasonably interfering with or unreasonably disadvantaging consumers’ ability to access and use the lawful internet content, applications, services or devices of their choosing or unreasonably interfering with or disadvantaging edge providers’ ability to make lawful content, applications, services or devices available to consumers (“general conduct standard”). The FCC stated that jurisdiction to regulate ISP conduct would rest at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), and it expressly preempted all state Open Internet laws. In addition, the FCC revised the transparency rule to add a requirement that ISPs disclose any blocking and throttling practices, and any paid or affiliated prioritization practices associated with their broadband offerings. We have disclosed that we do not block, throttle or engage in paid or affiliated prioritization, and have committed not to block, throttle or discriminate against lawful content. The FTC has authority to enforce these public commitments, and the FCC has authority to enforce compliance with its transparency rule.
The FCC’s 2017 decision was challenged, and in 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia largely upheld the FCC’s decision, including the classification of broadband as a Title I information service and repeal of its prior rules. However, it vacated the FCC’s express preemption of all state Open Internet laws, but noted that state laws may nevertheless be preempted on a case-by-case basis if those regulations conflict with federal law or policy or under other theories and precedent on implied preemption.
Several states have passed or introduced legislation, or have adopted executive orders, that impose Open Internet requirements in a variety of ways, and new state legislation may be introduced and adopted in the future. Certain of these state initiatives have been challenged in court. Such attempts by the states to regulate have the potential to create differing and/or conflicting state regulations.
The FCC under the new Administration likely will revisit the regulatory classification of broadband internet access service and reclassify broadband internet access service as a “telecommunications service,” which would authorize the FCC to subject it to traditional common carriage regulation under Title II of the Communications Act. Under a Title II framework, the FCC could potentially regulate our customer rates, speeds, data usage thresholds or other terms for internet services and could prohibit or seriously restrict arrangements between us and internet content, applications and service providers, including backbone
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interconnection arrangements. Any FCC action could impact state Open Internet initiatives and related legal challenges, and also could prompt further litigation. Congress may also consider legislation addressing these regulations and the regulatory framework for broadband internet access services. We cannot predict whether or how the rules might be changed, the impact of potential new legislation or the outcome of any litigation.
Broadband Deployment/Infrastructure Initiatives
Beginning in 2018, the FCC adopted a series of orders aimed at removing barriers to the deployment of broadband infrastructure, including the preemption of certain state and local laws or regulations that may unreasonably impede the deployment of wireless broadband networks. Over time, these orders may have the effect of creating regulatory imbalances that favor wireless services over wireline broadband services like our own. We cannot predict the extent to which the FCC might adopt similar orders in the future, whether such future orders would be upheld if appealed, how state or local laws or regulations may be impacted or how such changes may affect our business.
There also have been, and may continue to be, broadband-deployment funding initiatives at the federal and state level, including as part of COVID-19 relief efforts, that could subsidize other service providers building networks within our footprint or potentially subsidize expansion of our network to new areas. We cannot predict how such funds will be awarded or the impact of these initiatives on our businesses.
Municipally Owned Broadband Networks
A number of local municipalities operate municipally owned broadband networks and there may be further efforts by local governments to expand or create government-owned networks. Certain states have enacted laws that restrict or prohibit local municipalities from operating municipally owned broadband networks, and there may be efforts in other state legislatures to restrict the development of government-owned networks, although some may choose to ease or facilitate such networks. We cannot predict how successful those efforts will be and how they might affect our businesses.
Video
The video marketplace is quickly evolving and continues to become even more competitive, particularly as new DTC streaming and other OTT service providers enter the market at a growing pace. There are a number of laws and regulations that apply solely to multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) or cable operators, and to cable networks and local broadcast television stations. These laws and regulations can constrain our ability to compete, particularly against new online providers, which are not subject to these same requirements.
Cable Pricing and Packaging
While the vast majority of our video services, including equipment and installation fees, are no longer subject to rate regulation by the FCC, certain state entities monitor and challenge in court the marketing and advertising of our services, and some have attempted to regulate the service packages we offer and our billing practices. We cannot predict the outcome of any current litigation with state entities or whether other states may pursue similar actions.
Cable Franchising
Cable operators generally operate their cable systems under nonexclusive franchises granted by local or state franchising authorities. While the terms and conditions of franchises vary materially from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, franchises typically last for a fixed term, obligate the franchisee to pay franchise fees and meet service quality, customer service and other requirements, and are terminable if the franchisee fails to comply with material provisions. Franchising authorities also may require adequate channel capacity, facilities and financial support for public, educational and governmental access programming, and other in-kind contributions.
The Communications Act also contains provisions governing the franchising process, including renewal procedures designed to protect incumbent franchisees against arbitrary denials of renewal and unreasonable renewal conditions. We believe that our franchise renewal prospects are generally favorable but cannot guarantee the future renewal of any individual franchise. The FCC adopted an order in 2019 that prohibits state and local authorities from imposing duplicative franchise and/or fee requirements on the provision of broadband and other non-cable services over franchised cable systems, and ruling that in-kind contributions are treated as franchise fees subject to the statutory cap on franchise fees of 5% of cable service revenue unless those contributions are expressly excluded by the Communications Act. The order has been appealed, and we cannot predict the outcome of this litigation.
Program Carriage
FCC regulations prohibit us from unreasonably restraining the ability of an unaffiliated video programming network to compete fairly by discriminating against the network on the basis of its non-affiliation in the selection, terms or conditions for its carriage. In addition, cable operators and other MVPDs in the United States are prohibited from requiring as a condition of
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carriage a financial interest in, or exclusive distribution rights for, a video programming network. We have been involved in program carriage disputes at the FCC, as well as in the courts, and may be subject to new complaints in the future.
Program Access
The Communications Act and FCC regulations generally prevent cable networks affiliated with cable operators from favoring affiliated cable operators over competing MVPDs. The FCC and Congress have considered proposals that would require companies that own multiple cable networks to make each of their networks available individually when negotiating distribution agreements with MVPDs and potentially with DTC streaming and other OTT service providers; Maine has enacted a law mandating retail a la carte distribution by cable operators that may have similar effects. The Maine statute has been appealed and is currently stayed by the courts, but we cannot predict the outcome of that litigation. We currently offer our cable networks on a packaged basis (in “tiers”) and, in various cases, individually. We have been involved in program access disputes at the FCC and may be subject to new complaints in the future.
Must-Carry/Retransmission Consent
Cable operators are required to carry, without compensation, programming transmitted by most local commercial and noncommercial broadcast television stations. As an alternative to this “must-carry” requirement, local broadcast television stations may choose to negotiate with the cable operator for “retransmission consent,” under which the station gives up its must-carry rights and instead seeks to negotiate a carriage agreement with the cable operator, which frequently will involve payments to the station. We currently pay certain local broadcast television stations in exchange for their required consent for the retransmission of the stations’ broadcast programming to our video services customers and expect to continue to be subject to demands for increased payments and other concessions from local broadcast television stations. Failure to reach a retransmission consent agreement with a broadcaster could result in the loss of popular programming on our video services.
With respect to our Broadcast Television business, every three years, each local commercial broadcast television station must elect for each cable system in its DMA either must carry or retransmission consent. A similar regulatory scheme applies to satellite providers. For the three-year period from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2020, all of our owned NBC and Telemundo local broadcast television stations elected retransmission consent. The next three-year period will commence on January 1, 2021, for which elections were made by October 1, 2020. All of our owned NBC and Telemundo local broadcast television stations elected retransmission consent. Although we have reached retransmission consent agreements with almost all MVPDs in the past, there can be no assurance that we will always be able to renew those agreements under favorable terms or at all.
Broadcast Licensing
Local broadcast television stations may be operated only in accordance with a license issued by the FCC upon a finding that the grant of the license will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. The FCC grants broadcast television station licenses for specific periods of time, which may be renewed with or without conditions. The FCC renewed all of our broadcast television station licenses without conditions during the last license renewal cycle; the current television license renewal cycle began in 2020. Although our licenses have been renewed in prior cycles, there can be no assurance that we will always obtain renewal grants.
Broadcast Ownership Restrictions
The Communications Act and FCC regulations impose certain limitations on local and national television ownership, as well as limits on foreign ownership in a broadcast television station. Some of these limitations currently are under review in the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, each of the four major broadcast television networks - ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC - is prohibited from being under common ownership or control with another of the four.
Children’s Programming
Under federal regulations, the amount of commercial content that may be shown on cable networks, broadcast networks and local broadcast television stations during programming originally produced and broadcast primarily for an audience of children 12 years of age and under is limited, and certain television station programming must serve the educational and informational needs of children 16 years of age and under.
FCC 5G Spectrum Proceedings
The FCC also has established or is in the process of evaluating and potentially modifying its rules to make available additional spectrum that will likely be used for licensed and unlicensed commercial services, including new 5G services, some of which has been or is in the process of being auctioned by the FCC. Because Cable Communications and NBCUniversal both use some of this spectrum to provide services, they must transition their operations to different frequencies in order to accommodate the reallocation of spectrum for 5G, which could disrupt our services and impose additional costs.
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Voice
We provide voice services using VoIP technology. The FCC has adopted a number of regulations for providers of nontraditional voice services such as ours, including regulations relating to privacy of customer proprietary network information, local number portability duties and benefits, disability access, E911, law enforcement assistance, outage reporting, Universal Service Fund contribution obligations, rural call completion, customer equipment back-up power, robocall mitigation, service discontinuance and certain regulatory filing requirements. The FCC has not yet ruled on whether VoIP services such as ours should be classified as an “information service” or a “telecommunications service” under the Communications Act. The classification determination is important because telecommunications services are regulated more extensively than information services. One federal court of appeals in the 8th Circuit has held that VoIP is an information service and preempted state regulation of VoIP, and the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review that determination, but that ruling remains limited to the seven states located in that circuit. State regulatory commissions and legislatures in other jurisdictions may continue to consider imposing regulatory requirements on our voice services as long as the regulatory classification of VoIP remains unsettled at the federal level.
Wireless
We offer a wireless voice and data service using our MVNO rights to provide the service over Verizon’s wireless network. MVNOs are subject to many of the same FCC regulations as facilities-based wireless carriers (e.g., E911 services, local number portability, etc.), as well as certain state or local regulations. The FCC or other regulatory authorities may adopt new or different regulations for MVNOs and/or mobile broadband providers in the future, which could adversely affect our wireless phone service offering or our business generally.
International Communications-Related Regulations
Sky and certain NBCUniversal international businesses are subject to telecommunications and media-specific regulation described below in Europe, Latin America and other international jurisdictions, and all of our international businesses are subject to regulation under generally applicable laws, such as competition, consumer protection, data protection and taxation in the jurisdictions where they operate. Our international businesses are currently, and may be in the future, subject to proceedings or investigations from regulatory and antitrust authorities in the jurisdictions in which they operate. In addition, in connection with our acquisition of Sky, we have made certain legally binding commitments with respect to Sky’s operations, including for example, to maintain annual funding for Sky News in an amount no lower than Sky News’ 2017 fiscal year expenditures, as adjusted by inflation, until 2029.
Platform Services
In the United Kingdom, Sky is required to ensure that agreements to provide its electronic program guide (“EPG”) and conditional access (“CA”) services to other programming providers are on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, among other things, so that those providers’ content is available on Sky’s satellite platform via the EPG on set-top boxes. Sky also has voluntarily committed to the United Kingdom’s communications regulator, the Office of Communications, or Ofcom, to provide access control services to third parties that enable them to provide interactive services. Sky is subject to similar EPG and CA obligations in Germany.
Television Channels
Sky and NBCUniversal hold a number of licenses and authorizations for their portfolios of television channels. For example, in the United Kingdom, Sky is subject to various codes issued by Ofcom affecting the content and delivery of these channels. Sky and NBCUniversal also hold various broadcast licenses in certain E.U. countries and NBCUniversal holds broadcast licenses in various countries for its international cable networks, and must comply with rules and regulations covering issues such as the acquisition and exploitation of sports rights, media concentration and plurality, television advertising, the protection of children, accessibility, airtime for commercials and teleshopping, sponsorship and ensuring clear distinctions between program content and advertising.
High-Speed Internet and Voice
Sky provides broadband and voice services in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy pursuant to wholesale distribution agreements that third-party broadband and telecommunications companies either make available commercially or are required to make available under applicable laws in those jurisdictions. Material changes to these regulations could affect Sky’s business. Sky is also subject to E.U. open internet/net neutrality regulations, which prohibit the blocking, throttling or discrimination of online content, applications and services and require ISPs to disclose their traffic management, throughput limitations and other practices impacting quality of service in customer contracts.
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Other Areas of Regulation
Intellectual Property
Copyright, trademark, unfair competition, patent, trade secret and other proprietary-rights laws of the United States and other countries help protect our intellectual property rights. In particular, unauthorized copying, distribution and piracy of programming and films over the internet, through devices, software and websites, counterfeit DVDs and through other platforms interfere with the market for copyrighted works and present challenges for our content businesses. We have actively engaged in the enforcement of our intellectual property rights and likely will continue to expend substantial resources to protect our content. Although many legal protections exist to combat such practices, the extent of copyright protection is sometimes ambiguous and the use of technological protections can be controversial. Modifications to existing laws, a weakening of these protections or their enforcement or a failure of existing laws, in the United States or internationally, to adapt to new technologies could have an adverse effect on our ability to license and sell our programming.
U.S. copyright laws establish a cable compulsory copyright license that requires our video distribution business to contribute a specified percentage of revenue to a federal copyright royalty pool in exchange for retransmitting copyrighted material included in broadcast signals. We also pay standard industry licensing fees for the public performance of music in the programs we create or distribute. The cable compulsory copyright license and the royalties we pay are subject to audits and possible regulatory and legislative changes that could impact the royalty fees we pay and our ability to retransmit broadcast signals over cable systems. In addition, the landscape for music licensing is constantly changing, and music fees we pay are subject to new fee demands and negotiations. We cannot predict how changes to the compulsory copyright license and music licensing will impact the fees that we pay.
Privacy and Data Security Regulation
Our businesses are subject to federal, state and foreign laws and regulations that impose various restrictions and obligations related to privacy and the handling of consumers’ personal information. In the United States, the Communications Act generally restricts cable operators’ nonconsensual collection and disclosure to third parties of cable customers’ personally identifiable information, except for rendering service, conducting legitimate business activities related to the service and responding to legal requests. We are also subject to various state and federal regulations that provide privacy protections for customer proprietary network information related to our voice services.
The FTC generally exercises oversight of consumer privacy protections using its enforcement authority over unfair and deceptive acts or practices. For example, the FTC often partners with state attorneys general to update or enforce transparency requirements about the collection and use of consumer information. These efforts may require ongoing review of new and rapidly evolving technologies and methods for delivering content and advertising to ensure that appropriate notice is given to consumers and consent is obtained where required in connection with the collection, use or sharing of personal information. We are also subject to stringent data security and data retention requirements that apply to website operators and online services directed to children 12 years of age and under, or that knowingly collect or post personal information from children 12 years of age and under.
In addition, certain states have enacted detailed laws establishing consumer privacy protections and data security requirements in their respective states. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) gives California residents rights to receive certain disclosures regarding the collection, use and sharing of “Personal Information,” as well as rights to access, delete and restrict the sale of certain personal information collected about them. Moreover, all 50 states have security breach notification laws that generally require a business to give notice to consumers and government agencies when certain information has been disclosed to an unauthorized party due to a security breach.
Certain of our businesses are subject to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which broadly regulates the processing of personal data collected from individuals in the European Union GDPR, and the Member States’ legislation implementing the GDPR, affect our ability to process certain personal data. Moreover, the outcome of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (discussed more broadly below) could affect our ability to process certain data.
Privacy and data security remained a priority legislative issue in 2020. For example, California voters enacted updates to the CCPA via a ballot initiative called the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”). Among other things, the CPRA creates an entirely new state-level agency for overseeing consumer privacy issues. Changes enacted in the CPRA generally go into effect on January 1, 2023, though several aspects of the law remain subject to further rulemaking. We cannot predict how these changes to the law will affect our business. There are several federal and state legislative proposals that, if enacted, could create new consumer privacy protections or impose new requirements on entities that collect and use consumer personal information, including us. We cannot predict whether such legislation will be enacted at the federal or state level and, if so, the impact of any such laws on our business.
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State and Local Taxes
Some U.S. states and localities have imposed or are considering imposing, through both legislative and administrative channels, new or additional taxes or fees on, or limiting or eliminating incentives or credits earned or monetized by, the businesses operated by our Cable Communications and NBCUniversal segments, or imposing adverse methodologies by which taxes, fees, incentives or credits are computed, earned or monetized. These include combined reporting or other changes to general business taxes, central assessments for property tax and taxes and fees on the businesses operated or services provided by our Cable Communications and NBCUniversal segments. In some situations, DBS providers and other competitors that deliver their services over a high-speed internet connection do not face the same state tax and fee burdens. Congress has also considered, and may consider again, proposals to bar or limit states from imposing taxes on these DBS providers or other competitors that are equivalent to the taxes or fees that we pay. The Internet Tax Freedom Act (“ITFA”) prohibits most states and localities from imposing sales and other taxes on our internet access charges; however, some jurisdictions may challenge the ITFA or the application of the ITFA to our business, or may assert that certain taxes akin to right-of-way fees are not preempted by the ITFA.
U.K. Exit from the European Union
The telecommunications and media regulatory framework applicable to our business in the United Kingdom may be subject to greater uncertainty as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, with the possibility of greater divergence between the regulation of our U.K. business and that of our other European businesses over time. We are not able to predict the extent of any such divergence at this point in time.
Other Regulations
U.S. states and localities, and various regulatory authorities actively regulate other aspects of our businesses, including our Filmed Entertainment and Theme Parks businesses, accessibility to our video and voice services and broadcast television programming for people with disabilities, customer service standards, inside wiring, cable equipment, pole attachments, universal service fees, public safety, telemarketing, leased access, indecency, loudness of commercial advertisements, advertising, political broadcasting, sponsorship identification, Emergency Alert System, equal employment opportunity and other employment-related laws, environmental-related matters, regulatory fees, our equipment supply chain and technical standards relating to the operation of cable systems and television stations. In addition, our international businesses are subject to various international regulations, including those that cover television broadcasting, programming and advertising. We are occasionally subject to enforcement actions and investigations at the FCC and other federal, state and local agencies, as well as foreign governments and regulatory authorities, which can result in us having to pay fines or being subject to other sanctions.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 168,000 full-time and part-time employees calculated on a full-time equivalent basis. Of these employees, approximately 82,000, 49,000 and 34,000 were associated with Cable Communications, NBCUniversal and Sky, respectively. Approximately 25% of these employees were located in over 30 countries outside the United States, with larger workforce concentrations in the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Germany. We also use freelance and temporary employees in the normal course of our business. A small overall portion of our full-time U.S. employees are unionized; outside the United States, employees in certain countries, particularly in Europe, are represented by an employee representative organization, such as a union, works council or employee association.
As a global media and technology company, we have a wide range of employees, including management professionals, technicians, engineers, call center employees, theme park employees and a wide range of media talent and production employees. Given the breadth of our employee base, we tailor our human capital management policies with a view to specific employee populations. However, we provide a wide variety of opportunities for professional growth for all employees with in-classroom and online trainings, on-the-job experience, education tuition assistance and counseling, and financial counseling and literacy training. We seek to create an engaged workforce through proactive listening and constructive dialogue, including through employee engagement surveys and employee resource groups, and continue to have a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
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We focus on attracting and retaining employees by providing compensation and benefits packages that are competitive within the applicable market, taking into account the job position’s location and responsibilities. We provide competitive financial benefits such as a 401(k) retirement plan in the United States with a company match, have employee stock purchase plans in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and several other European countries where most of our full-time and part-time employees can purchase our stock at a discount, and offer a portfolio of services and tools to support our employees’ health and wellbeing. We also generally grant awards of restricted stock units and stock options on an annual basis to a meaningful portion of our employees, with over 18,000 employees receiving such awards in 2020.
In 2020, in response to COVID-19, we committed over $500 million to support employees where operations were closed or impacted, made work from home options as broadly available as possible, and enhanced safety measures for customer-facing employees. In response to the impacts of COVID-19 and the changing environment in which we are operating our businesses, we also implemented temporary workforce reductions, including employee furloughs at our theme parks, and incurred severance at some of our businesses. Refer to Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for additional information.
Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
The SEC encourages companies to disclose forward-looking information so that investors can better understand a company’s future prospects and make informed investment decisions. In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, we state our beliefs of future events and of our future financial performance. In some cases, you can identify these so-called “forward-looking statements” by words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “believes,” “estimates,” “potential,” or “continue,” or the negative of these words, and other comparable words. You should be aware that these statements are only our predictions. In evaluating these statements, you should consider various factors, including the risks and uncertainties listed in “Risk Factors” and in other reports we file with the SEC.
Additionally, we operate in a highly competitive, consumer-driven and rapidly changing environment. This environment is affected by government regulation; economic, strategic, political and social conditions; consumer response to new and existing products and services; technological developments; and, particularly in view of new technologies, the ability to develop and protect intellectual property rights. Our actual results could differ materially from our forward-looking statements as a result of any of such factors, which could adversely affect our businesses, results of operations or financial condition. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
Item 1A: Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business, Industry and Operations
The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will likely continue to have, a material adverse effect on our businesses and results of operations.
The impacts of COVID-19 and measures to prevent its spread across the globe have impacted our businesses in a number of ways. While our Cable Communications results were strong in 2020, they were negatively affected by the significant deterioration in domestic economic conditions and by costs associated with our support of customer connectivity as people increasingly worked and learned remotely from home. COVID-19 had material negative impacts on NBCUniversal and Sky results of operations during 2020. For example, in late February we temporarily closed our theme park in Japan, and in mid-March we temporarily closed our theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood, and although our parks in Orlando and Japan reopened with limited capacity in June 2020, our park in Hollywood remains closed. We cannot predict when the Hollywood park will reopen, if any reopened parks will remain open or estimate attendance levels at any of the parks. We expect the results of operations at our theme parks will continue to be negatively impacted in the near to medium term. The creation and availability of our film and television programming globally have been and will continue to be disrupted, including as a result of the postponement or cancellation of sporting events (such as the professional soccer, hockey, baseball and basketball leagues and the Olympics), theatrical closures and the suspension of entertainment content production. We expect any continued deterioration of global economic conditions would result in lower advertising revenues and consumer spending across our businesses.
The impact of COVID-19 on our businesses also generally depends on the extent of restrictive governmental measures taken that affect day-to-day life and the length of time that such measures remain in place to respond to COVID-19, further deterioration of the global economy and the widespread availability of a vaccine. At this point, it is impossible to predict such extent and duration and the degree to which our results of operations will continue to be affected.
COVID-19 may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks set forth below.
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Our businesses operate in highly competitive and dynamic industries, and our businesses and results of operations could be adversely affected if we do not compete effectively.
All of our businesses operate in intensely competitive, consumer-driven, rapidly changing environments and compete with a growing number of companies that provide a broad range of communications products and services as well as entertainment, news and information content to consumers. Some established DTC streaming and other OTT service providers have become core competitors to our video services and more continue to enter the market at a growing pace.
For example:
Cable Communications’ and Sky’s high-speed internet services compete primarily against wireline telecommunications companies with fiber-based networks, wireless telecommunications companies offering internet services (such as 4G and 5G wireless broadband services), certain municipalities in the United States that own and operate their own broadband networks and DBS providers. Competition for Cable Communications’ video services consists primarily of DBS providers, phone companies with fiber-based networks and increasingly DTC streaming and other OTT service providers and devices, each of which typically offer features, pricing and packaging for services comparable to ours, including bundled offers with high-speed internet services. Sky faces competition for its services from cable and telecommunications providers in its European markets, many of which offer customers bundled services, which has increased competition.
NBCUniversal and Sky face substantial and increasing competition from providers of similar types of content, as well as from other forms of entertainment and recreational activities. NBCUniversal and Sky must compete to obtain talent, content (including sports programming) and other resources required to operate their businesses. This competition has intensified as DTC streaming and other OTT service providers seek to develop high-quality programming to attract viewers.
For a more detailed description of the competition facing our businesses, see Item 1: Business and refer to the “Competition” discussion within that section.
Consolidation of, or cooperation between, our competitors, including suppliers and distributors of content, may increase competition in all of these areas, as may the emergence of additional competitors with significant resources and efficiencies of scale who are competing with our businesses in all forms of content distribution and production. For example, consolidation or cooperation between phone companies (which are also wireless distributors) and content providers may allow competitors to offer free or lower cost streaming services, potentially on an exclusive basis, through unlimited data-usage plans for internet or wireless phone services.
The ability of our businesses to compete effectively also depends on our perceived image and reputation among our various constituencies, including our customers, consumers, advertisers, business partners, employees, investors and government authorities. Our ability to compete will be negatively affected if we do not provide our customers with a satisfactory customer experience.
While we continue to seek ways to enhance the value of our businesses, such as by growing high-speed internet services and business services and by investing in Peacock as the media and entertainment landscape continues to rapidly evolve, there can be no assurance that we can execute on these and other initiatives in a manner sufficient to grow or maintain our revenue or operating margins or to compete successfully in the future. There can be no assurance that we will be able to compete effectively against existing or new competitors or that competition will not have an adverse effect on our businesses.
Changes in consumer behavior driven by online video distribution platforms for viewing content continue to adversely affect our businesses and challenge existing business models.
Distribution platforms for viewing and purchasing content over the internet have been, and will likely continue to be, developed that further increase the number of competitors that all our businesses face and challenge existing business models. As consumers increasingly turn to DTC streaming and other OTT services, the number of Cable Communications’ video customers and subscribers to NBCUniversal’s cable networks decrease, even as Cable Communications’ high-speed internet services become more important to consumers. DTC streaming and other OTT services have driven, and will continue to drive, changes in consumer behavior as consumers seek more control over when, where and how they consume content and access communications services, and how much they pay for such content.
For example, in Europe, as more of Sky’s new video customers have recently subscribed, and may continue to subscribe, to Sky’s DTC streaming service instead of its traditional DTH video service. Although we have attempted to adapt our video service offerings and enhance our high-speed internet services for changing consumer behaviors, for example, by deploying the X1 and Sky Q platforms and Flex, which more easily aggregate content from linear (i.e., traditional television channels) and
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DTC streaming and other OTT services for our customers, and by launching Peacock, our DTC streaming service, the continuing trend of content owners delivering their content directly to consumers over the internet rather than through, or in addition to, traditional video distribution services continues to disrupt traditional distribution business models.
The increase in DTC streaming and other OTT service providers also has significantly increased the number of entertainment choices available to consumers, which has intensified audience fragmentation and disaggregated the way that content traditionally has been distributed and viewed by consumers. NBCUniversal’s revenue relatedly may be negatively impacted as traditional and virtual multichannel video providers, which pay NBCUniversal fees based on their respective numbers of customers, lose customers. Time-shifting technologies, such as DVR and on demand services, reduce viewership, which has caused and likely will continue to cause audience ratings declines for our programming channels. Consumers in many cases have multiple options for viewing the same content; for example, content may be available through traditional linear platforms, on demand services, or a DTC streaming or OTT service, which may also result in audience rating declines. Reduced ratings may adversely affect the price and amount of advertising that advertisers are willing to purchase from us and the amount that we receive for distribution of our content. In addition, as more programming providers offer their content directly to consumers, they may reduce the quantity and quality of the programming they license to NBCUniversal or Sky’s programming channels.
Our failure to effectively anticipate or adapt to emerging competitors or changes in consumer behavior, including among younger consumers, and shifting business models could have an adverse effect on our competitive position, businesses and results of operations.
A decline in advertisers’ expenditures or changes in advertising markets could negatively impact our businesses.
Cable Communications, NBCUniversal and Sky compete for the sale of advertising time with digital media distributors, other television networks and stations, as well as with all other advertising platforms, such as radio and print. We derive substantial revenue from the sale of advertising, and a decline in expenditures by advertisers, including through traditional linear television distribution models, could negatively impact our results of operations. Declines can be caused by the economic prospects of specific advertisers or industries, increased competition for the leisure time of viewers, such as from social media and video games, audience fragmentation, increased viewing of content through DTC streaming and other OTT service providers, regulatory intervention regarding where and when advertising may be placed, or economic conditions generally. In addition, advertisers have shifted a portion of their total expenditures to digital media and mobile offerings, which can deliver targeted advertising. Their willingness to purchase advertising from us may be adversely affected by lower audience ratings, which many of NBCUniversal’s networks and some of Sky’s television channels have experienced and likely will continue to experience, or from the level of popularity or perceived acceptance of Peacock. Advertising sales and rates also are dependent on the methodology used for audience measurement and could be negatively affected if methodologies do not accurately reflect actual viewership levels. For example, certain methods of viewing content, such as through DTC streaming or other OTT service providers or delayed viewing through DVR or on demand services, might not be fully counted in audience measurements or may generate less, if any, revenue than traditional linear television distribution methods, which could have an adverse effect on our advertising revenue.
Programming expenses for our video services are increasing, which could adversely affect Cable Communications’ video businesses.
We expect programming expenses for our video services to continue to be the largest single expense item for our Cable Communications segment and to increase for the foreseeable future. Our programming expenses may also increase as we add programming to our video services or distribute existing programming to more of our customers or through additional delivery platforms, such as on demand or streaming services. Additionally, Cable Communications pays certain local broadcast television stations in exchange for their required consent for the retransmission of broadcast network programming to video services customers; we expect to continue to be subject to increasing demands for payment and other concessions from local broadcast television stations. These market factors may be exacerbated by increased consolidation in the media industry, which may further increase our programming expenses. If we are unable to raise our customers’ rates or otherwise offset programming cost increases through the sale of additional services, cost management or other initiatives, the increasing cost of programming could have an adverse effect on our Cable Communications segment’s results of operations.
Moreover, as our contracts with content providers expire, there can be no assurance that they will be renewed on acceptable terms, or at all, in which case we may be unable to provide such content as part of Cable Communication’s video services, and our businesses and results of operations could be adversely affected.
NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s success depends on consumer acceptance of their content, and their businesses may be adversely affected if their content fails to achieve sufficient consumer acceptance or the costs to create or acquire content increase.
NBCUniversal and Sky create and acquire media and entertainment content, the success of which depends substantially on consumer tastes and preferences that change in often unpredictable ways. The success of these businesses depends on our
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ability to consistently create, acquire, market and distribute television programming, filmed entertainment, theme park attractions and other content that meet the changing preferences of the broad domestic and international consumer markets. We have invested, and will continue to invest, substantial amounts in our content, including in the production of original content at NBCUniversal and Sky, in our films and for new theme parks and theme park attractions, before learning the extent to which they will earn consumer acceptance. We also are incurring significant costs to develop Peacock, and there can be no assurance that consumers and advertisers will embrace this offering.
NBCUniversal and Sky also obtain a significant portion of their content from third parties, such as movie studios, television production companies, sports organizations and other suppliers, sometimes on an exclusive basis. Competition for popular content, particularly for sports programming, is intense, and we may have to increase the price we are willing to pay or be outbid by our competitors for popular content. We also may be unable to license popular third-party content for NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s programming channels if media companies determine that licensing the content to us is not in their strategic best interests (for example, they may launch DTC streaming or other OTT services for their owned content, forgo license fees from us and only provide their content directly to consumers or they may license their content on an exclusive basis to certain of our competitors or rival DTC streaming or other OTT service providers).
Entering into or renewing contracts for such programming rights or acquiring additional rights may result in significantly increased costs. Particularly with respect to long-term contracts for sports programming rights for NBCUniversal and Sky, our results of operations and cash flows over the term of a contract depend on a number of factors, including the strength of the advertising market, audience size, the timing and amount of rights payments, and the ability of NBCUniversal to secure distribution from, impose surcharges on, or obtain carriage on multichannel video providers. There can be no assurance that revenue from these contracts will exceed our costs for the rights, as well as the other costs of producing and distributing the programming. If our content does not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance, or if we cannot obtain or retain rights to popular content on acceptable terms, or at all, NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s businesses may be adversely affected.
The loss of programming distribution and licensing agreements, or the renewal of these agreements on less favorable terms, could adversely affect our businesses.
NBCUniversal’s cable networks depend on their ability to secure and maintain distribution agreements with traditional and virtual multichannel video providers. The number of subscribers to NBCUniversal’s cable networks has been, and likely will continue to be, reduced as a result of fewer subscribers to multichannel video providers. Sky also depends on its ability to secure and maintain wholesale distribution agreements for its television channels with multichannel video providers. NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s ability to renew these agreements on favorable terms may be affected by recent industry consolidation and new participants entering the market for distribution of content on digital platforms.
Increasingly, NBCUniversal and Sky license their prior season and library content on third party distribution platforms, including to DTC streaming and other OTT service providers. If this programming does not attract sufficient viewers, these providers may not distribute NBCUniversal’s or Sky’s programming, and DTC streaming and other OTT service providers may not license programming NBCUniversal or Sky creates (or license it at reduced rates). In addition, we expect not to license certain popular content, and we may decide not to license additional owned popular content, to third parties so we may offer it exclusively through Peacock, which would result in foregone licensing revenue.
NBCUniversal’s broadcast television networks depend on their ability to secure and maintain network affiliation agreements with third-party local broadcast television stations in the markets where it does not own the affiliated local broadcast television station. In addition, every three years, each of its owned local broadcast television stations must elect, with respect to its retransmission by multichannel video providers within its DMA, either “must-carry” status, in which the distributor’s carriage of the station is mandatory and does not generate any compensation for the local station, or “retransmission consent,” in which the station gives up its right to mandatory carriage and instead seeks to negotiate the terms and conditions of carriage with the distributor, including the amount of compensation, if any, paid to the station by such distributor.
There can be no assurance that any of these agreements will be entered into or renewed in the future on acceptable terms. The inability to enter into or renew these agreements could reduce our revenues and the reach of our programming, which could adversely affect NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s businesses.
Less favorable European telecommunications access regulations, the loss of Sky’s transmission access agreements with satellite or telecommunications providers or the renewal of these agreements on less favorable terms could adversely affect Sky’s businesses.
Sky relies on various third-party telecommunications providers to deliver its video, high-speed internet, voice and wireless phone services to its customers. For example, Sky relies on satellite transponder capacity leased from third parties to provide most of its video services. In addition, under the current regulatory regimes in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Italy, Sky
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accesses networks owned by third-party telecommunications providers to offer its high-speed internet and phone services, in many cases, on regulated terms, including price. If there is a change in regulation in these markets, the regulated terms could become less favorable. Moreover, while Sky receives wholesale fiber access on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, specific pricing terms are not regulated. As a result, if Sky is only able to enter into or renew its transmission agreements with satellite or telecommunications operators on less favorable terms, this would adversely affect Sky’s ability to compete, and if it is ultimately unable to do so on commercially viable terms or if these operators were to terminate their agreements, Sky may be unable to deliver some of its services to customers in one or more of the countries in which it operates, which would adversely affect Sky’s businesses and results of operations.
Our businesses depend on using and protecting certain intellectual property rights and on not infringing the intellectual property rights of others.
We rely on our intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, as well as licenses and other agreements with our vendors and other third parties, to use various technologies, conduct our operations and sell our products and services. Legal challenges to our intellectual property rights and claims of intellectual property infringement by third parties could require that we enter into royalty or licensing agreements on unfavorable terms, incur substantial monetary liability, or be enjoined preliminarily or permanently from further use of the intellectual property in question, from importing into the United States or other jurisdictions in which we operate hardware or software that uses such intellectual property or from the continuation of our businesses as currently conducted. We may need to change our business practices if any of these events occur, which may limit our ability to compete effectively and could have an adverse effect on our results of operations. Even if we believe any such challenges or claims are without merit, they can be time-consuming and costly to defend and divert management’s attention and resources away from our businesses. Moreover, if we are unable to obtain or continue to obtain licenses from our vendors and other third parties on reasonable terms, our businesses could be adversely affected.
In addition, intellectual property constitutes a significant part of the value of NBCUniversal’s and Sky’s businesses, and their success is highly dependent on protecting the intellectual property rights of the content they create or acquire against third-party misappropriation, reproduction or infringement. The unauthorized reproduction, distribution or display of copyrighted material negatively affects our ability to generate revenue from the legitimate sale of our content, as well as from the sale of advertising in connection with our content, and increases our costs due to our active enforcement of our intellectual property rights.
Piracy and other unauthorized uses of content are made easier, and the enforcement of intellectual property rights more challenging, by technological advances that allow the conversion of programming, films and other content into digital formats, which facilitates the creation, transmission and sharing of high-quality unauthorized copies. In particular, piracy of programming and films through unauthorized distribution platforms continues to present challenges for NBCUniversal’s cable networks, broadcast television and filmed entertainment businesses, and certain illegal online entities may stream our broadcast television content online without our consent and without paying any compensation to us. It also presents similar challenges for Sky’s businesses, including as a result of illegal retransmission of sports events. While piracy is a challenge in the United States, it is particularly prevalent in many parts of the world that lack developed copyright laws, effective enforcement of copyright laws and technical protective measures like those in effect in the United States. If any U.S. or international laws intended to combat piracy and protect intellectual property rights are repealed or weakened or are not adequately enforced, or if the legal system fails to adapt to new technologies that facilitate piracy, we may be unable to effectively protect our rights, the value of our intellectual property may be negatively impacted and our costs of enforcing our rights may increase.
We may be unable to obtain necessary hardware, software and operational support.
We depend on third-party vendors to supply us with a significant amount of the hardware, software and operational support necessary to provide certain of our products and services. Some of these vendors represent our primary source of supply or grant us the right to incorporate their intellectual property into some of our hardware and software products. While we actively monitor the operations and financial condition of key vendors in an attempt to detect any potential difficulties, there can be no assurance that we would timely identify any operating or financial difficulties associated with these vendors or that we could effectively mitigate our risks with respect to any such difficulties. If any of these vendors experience operating or financial difficulties, if our demand exceeds their capacity or if they breach or terminate their agreements with us or are otherwise unable to meet our specifications or provide the equipment, products or services we need in a timely manner (or at all), or at reasonable prices, our ability to provide some products or services may be adversely affected and we may incur additional costs.
Weak economic conditions may have a negative impact on our businesses.
A substantial portion of our revenue comes from customers whose spending patterns may be affected by prevailing economic conditions. Weak economic conditions in the United States or globally could adversely affect demand for any of our products and services and have a negative impact on our results of operations. For example, weak economic conditions will likely impact our customers’ discretionary spending and as a result, they may reduce the level of services to which they subscribe or may
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discontinue subscribing to one or more of Cable Communications’ or Sky’s services. This risk may be increased by the expanded availability of free or lower cost competitive services, such as certain DTC streaming and other OTT services, or substitute services for high-speed internet and voice services, such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi networks. Weak economic conditions also negatively impact our advertising revenue, the performance of our films and home entertainment releases, and attendance and spending in our theme parks. In particular, the success of our theme parks and theatrical releases largely depend on consumer demand for out-of-home entertainment experiences, which may be limited by weakened economic conditions (as well as natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks (such as COVID-19), terrorist attacks or other similar events).
Weak economic conditions and disruption in the global financial markets may also have an impact on the ability of third parties to satisfy their obligations to us or increase our exposure to currency fluctuations in countries where we operate. In addition, in connection with our acquisition of Sky, we incurred and assumed a significant amount of additional debt. If our businesses are negatively impacted by weak economic conditions, we may not be able to reduce the amount of our debt outstanding as quickly as expected. Further, a significant increase in interest rates or disruption in the global financial markets may affect our ability to obtain financing or to refinance existing debt on acceptable terms, if at all, and could increase the cost of our borrowings.
Acquisitions and other strategic initiatives present many risks, and we may not realize the financial and strategic goals that we had contemplated.
From time to time, we make acquisitions and investments and may pursue other strategic initiatives, such as Peacock. In connection with such acquisitions and strategic initiatives, we may incur significant or unanticipated expenses, fail to realize anticipated benefits and synergies, have difficulty incorporating an acquired or new line of business, disrupt relationships with current and new employees, customers and vendors, incur significant debt, divert the attention of management from our current operations, or have to delay or not proceed with announced transactions or initiatives. Additionally, federal regulatory agencies such as the FCC or DOJ or international regulators may impose restrictions on the operation of our businesses as a result of our seeking regulatory approvals for any significant acquisitions and strategic initiatives or may dissuade us from pursuing certain transactions. The occurrence of any of these events could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
We face risks relating to doing business internationally that could adversely affect our businesses.
We operate our businesses worldwide. There are risks inherent in doing business internationally, including global financial market turmoil; economic volatility and global economic slowdown; currency exchange rate fluctuations and inflationary pressures; political risks; the requirements of local laws and customs relating to the publication and distribution of content and the display and sale of advertising; import or export restrictions, tariffs, sanctions and trade regulations; difficulties in developing, staffing and managing foreign operations; issues related to occupational safety and adherence to diverse local labor laws and regulations; and potentially adverse tax developments. Additionally, although we employ foreign currency derivative instruments to hedge certain exposure to foreign currency exchange rate risks, including the British pound and Euro, the use of such derivative instruments may not be sufficient to mitigate exchange rate fluctuations. Sky’s businesses in particular are also subject to risks relating to uncertainties and effects of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (referred to as “Brexit”), including financial, legal, tax and trade implications. In addition, doing business internationally subjects us to risks relating to political or social unrest, as well as corruption and government regulation, including U.S. laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act, that impose stringent requirements on how we conduct our foreign operations. If any of these events occur or our conduct does not comply with such laws and regulations, our businesses may be adversely affected.
Our businesses depend on keeping pace with technological developments.
Our success is, to a large extent, dependent on our ability to acquire, develop, adopt and leverage new and existing technologies, and our competitors’ use of certain types of technology and equipment may provide them with a competitive advantage. New technologies can materially impact our businesses in a number of ways, including affecting the demand for our products, the distribution methods of our products and content to our customers, the ways in which our customers can purchase and view our content and the growth of distribution platforms available to advertisers. For example, current and new wireless internet technologies such as 4G and 5G wireless broadband services continue to evolve rapidly and may allow for greater speed and reliability. In addition, some companies and U.S. municipalities are building advanced fiber-based networks that provide very fast internet access speeds. We expect advances in communications technology to continue to occur in the future. If we choose technology or equipment that is not as effective or attractive to consumers as that employed by our competitors, if we fail to employ technologies desired by consumers before our competitors do so, or if we fail to execute effectively on our technology initiatives, our businesses and results of operations could be adversely affected. We also will continue to incur additional costs as we execute our technology initiatives, such as the deployment of Flex and Sky Q set-top boxes, wireless gateways and the development of Peacock. There can be no assurance that we can execute on these and other initiatives in a manner sufficient to grow or maintain our revenue or to successfully compete in the future. We also may generate less revenue or incur increased costs if changes in our competitors’ product offerings require that we offer certain services or enhancements at a lower or no cost to our customers or that we increase our research and development expenditures.
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We rely on network and information systems and other technologies, as well as key properties, and a disruption, cyber attack, failure or destruction of such networks, systems, technologies or properties may disrupt our businesses.
Network and information systems and other technologies, including those related to our network management, customer service operations, and programming delivery, and technology embedded in our products and services, are critical to our business activities. Cyber threats and attacks are directed at both known and newly discovered software and hardware vulnerabilities and are constantly evolving, which increases the difficulty of detecting and successfully defending against them. Cyber threats and attacks can have cascading impacts that unfold with increasing speed across networks, information systems and other technologies. Network, information systems and technology-related events, including those caused by us, such as process breakdowns, security architecture or design vulnerabilities, or by third parties, such as computer hackings, cyber attacks, computer viruses, worms or other destructive or disruptive software, denial of service attacks, malicious social engineering or other malicious activities, or power outages, natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks (such as COVID-19), terrorist attacks or other similar events, could result in a degradation or disruption of our products and services, excessive call volume to call centers, theft or misuse of our intellectual property or other assets, a reduction in demand for our theme parks, disruption of the security of our internal systems and products and services or satellite transmission signals, the compromise of confidential or technical business information or damage to our equipment, data, properties and reputation. In addition, severe weather events such as hurricanes and wild fires have impacted our services, products and properties from time to time in the past and will in the future. The occurrence of these events may result in large expenditures to repair or replace the damaged properties, products, services, networks or information systems to protect them from similar events in the future, and any such events could lead to litigation or otherwise have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
In addition, we obtain certain confidential, proprietary and personal information about our customers, personnel and vendors, and in some cases provide this information to third parties, in connection with our business. While we generally obtain assurances that these third parties will protect this information, there is a risk that this information may be compromised. Any security breaches, such as misappropriation, misuse, leakage, falsification or accidental release or loss of information maintained in our third-party’s information technology systems, including customer, personnel and vendor data, could damage our reputation and require us to expend significant capital and other resources to remedy any such security breach, could lead to litigation or could cause regulators in the United States and internationally to impose fines or other remedies for failure to comply with relevant customer privacy rules.
The risk of systems-related events and security breaches occurring continues to intensify in many of our businesses, and our businesses may be at a disproportionately heightened risk of these events occurring, due to the nature of our businesses and because we maintain certain information necessary to conduct our business in digital form. In the ordinary course of our business, there are frequent attempts by third parties to cause such systems-related events and security breaches and to identify our security architecture or system design vulnerabilities. While we develop and maintain systems, and operate an extensive security program, seeking to prevent systems-related events and security breaches from occurring, the development, maintenance and operation of these systems and programs is costly and requires ongoing monitoring and updating as technologies change and efforts to overcome security measures become more sophisticated and evolve rapidly. Despite our efforts to prevent these events and security breaches, we have experienced systems-related events and breaches in the past, and there can be no assurance that they will not occur in the future or will not have an adverse effect on our businesses. Moreover, the amount and scope of insurance we maintain against losses resulting from any such events or security breaches likely would not be sufficient to cover our losses or otherwise adequately compensate us for any disruptions to our business that may result, and the occurrence of any such events or security breaches could have an adverse effect on our business.
The loss of key management personnel or popular on-air and creative talent could have an adverse effect on our businesses.
We rely on certain key management personnel in the operation of our businesses. While we maintain long-term and emergency transition plans for key management personnel and believe we could either identify internal candidates or attract outside candidates to fill any vacancy created by the loss of any key management personnel, the loss of one or more of our key management personnel could have a negative impact on our businesses.
In addition, NBCUniversal and Sky depend on the abilities and expertise of on-air and creative talent. If we fail to attract or retain on-air or creative talent, if the costs to attract or retain such talent increase materially, or if these individuals cause negative publicity or lose their current appeal, our businesses could be adversely affected.
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Risks Related to Legal, Regulatory and Governance Matters
We are subject to regulation by federal, state, local and foreign authorities, which impose additional costs and restrictions on our businesses.
While all of our businesses are subject to various federal, state and local laws and regulations, compliance with certain laws and regulations is most material with respect to our Cable Communications and Broadcast Television businesses in the United States. In addition, our international businesses are subject to various laws and regulations in the jurisdiction of the foreign regulatory authorities where they operate.
Legislators and regulators at all levels of government frequently consider changing, and sometimes do change, existing statutes, rules or regulations, or interpretations of existing statues, rules or regulations, or prescribe new ones, any of which may significantly affect our businesses and ability to effectively compete. These legislators and regulators have been active in considering rulemakings and legislation, at times looking to adopt regulatory approaches from different countries that may be more burdensome, and they, along with some state attorneys general and foreign governmental authorities, also have been active in conducting inquiries and reviews regarding our services, and this trend likely will continue. State legislative and regulatory initiatives can create a patchwork of different and/or conflicting state requirements, such as with respect to privacy and Open Internet/net neutrality, that can affect our business operations and further constrain our ability to compete.
Legislative and regulatory activity may increase with the change in administration following the 2020 U.S. presidential election. For example, the U.S. Congress may consider proposals that address communications issues, including whether it should rewrite the entire Communications Act to account for changes in the communications marketplace, whether it should enact new, permanent Open Internet requirements, and whether it should fund new broadband infrastructure or broadband connectivity initiatives. Any of these regulations could significantly affect our business and compliance costs. In addition, United States and foreign regulators and courts could adopt new interpretations of existing competition laws and United States and foreign policymakers could enact new competition laws or regulatory enforcement options that could negatively impact our businesses. With the change in administration, tax legislation could be enacted increasing the federal corporate income tax from the current rate of 21%. Any future legislative, judicial, regulatory or administrative actions may increase our costs or impose additional restrictions on our businesses, some of which may be significant. We are unable to predict the outcome or effects of any of these potential actions or any other legislative or regulatory proposals on our businesses.
Failure to comply with the laws and regulations applicable to our businesses could result in administrative enforcement actions, fines, and civil and criminal liability. Any changes to the legal and regulatory framework applicable to any of our services or businesses could have an adverse impact on our businesses and results of operations. For a more extensive discussion of the significant risks associated with the regulation of our businesses, see Item 1: Business and refer to the “Legislation and Regulation” discussion within that section.
Unfavorable litigation or governmental investigation results could require us to pay significant amounts or lead to onerous operating procedures.
We are subject from time to time to a number of lawsuits both in the United States and in foreign countries, including claims relating to competition, intellectual property rights (including patents), employment and labor matters, personal injury and property damage, free speech, customer privacy, regulatory requirements, advertising, marketing and selling practices, and credit and collection issues. Greater constraints on the use of arbitration to resolve certain of these disputes could adversely affect our business. We also spend substantial resources complying with various regulatory and government standards, including any related investigations and litigation. We may incur significant expenses defending any such suit or government charge and may be required to pay amounts or otherwise change our operations in ways that could adversely impact our businesses, results of operations or financial condition.
Labor disputes, whether involving employees or sports organizations, may disrupt our operations and adversely affect our businesses.
Many of NBCUniversal’s writers, directors, actors, technical and production personnel, as well as some of our on-air and creative talent employees, are covered by collective bargaining agreements or works councils. Most of NBCUniversal’s collective bargaining agreements are industry-wide agreements, and we may lack practical control over the negotiations and terms of the agreements. If we are unable to reach agreement with a labor union before the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement, our employees who were covered by that agreement may have a right to strike or take other actions that could adversely affect us, which could disrupt our operations and reduce our revenue, and the resolution of any disputes may increase our costs. There can be no assurance that we will renew our collective bargaining agreements as they expire or that we can renew them on favorable terms or without any work stoppages.
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In addition, NBCUniversal’s cable networks and broadcast television networks and Sky have programming rights agreements of varying scope and duration with various sports organizations to broadcast and produce sporting events, including certain NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and European football games. Labor disputes in these and other sports organizations could have an adverse effect on our businesses.
Our Class B common stock has substantial voting rights and separate approval rights over several potentially material transactions, and our Chairman and CEO has considerable influence over our company through his beneficial ownership of our Class B common stock.
Our Class B common stock has a non-dilutable 33 1/3% of the combined voting power of our Class A and Class B common stock. This non-dilutable voting power is subject to proportional decrease to the extent the number of shares of Class B common stock is reduced below 9,444,375, which was the number of shares of Class B common stock outstanding on the date of our 2002 acquisition of AT&T Corp.’s cable business, subject to adjustment in specified situations. Stock dividends payable on the Class B common stock in the form of Class B or Class A common stock do not decrease the non-dilutable voting power of the Class B common stock. The Class B common stock also has separate approval rights over several potentially material transactions, even if they are approved by our Board of Directors or by our other shareholders and even if they might be in the best interests of our other shareholders. These potentially material transactions include mergers or consolidations involving us, transactions (such as a sale of all or substantially all of our assets) or issuances of securities that require shareholder approval, transactions that result in any person or group owning shares representing more than 10% of the combined voting power of the resulting or surviving corporation, issuances of Class B common stock or securities exercisable or convertible into Class B common stock, and amendments to our articles of incorporation or by-laws that would limit the rights of holders of our Class B common stock. Brian L. Roberts, our chairman and CEO, beneficially owns all of the outstanding shares of our Class B common stock and, accordingly, has considerable influence over our company and the potential ability to transfer effective control by selling the Class B common stock, which could be at a premium.
Item 1B: Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 2: Properties
We believe that substantially all of our physical assets were in good operating condition as of December 31, 2020. Our corporate headquarters and Cable Communications segment headquarters are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at One Comcast Center. Additionally, we completed construction of the Comcast Technology Center in 2019, which is adjacent to the Comcast Center and is a center for Cable Communications’ technology and engineering workforce, as well as the home of our NBCUniversal and Telemundo owned local broadcast stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We also have leases for numerous business offices, warehouses and properties throughout the United States that house divisional information technology operations.
Cable Communications Segment
Our principal physical assets consist of operating plant and equipment, including cable system signal receiving, encoding and decoding devices, headends and distribution networks. Our distribution network consists primarily of headends, content distribution servers, coaxial and fiber-optic cables, lasers, routers, switches and related electronic equipment. Our cable plant and related equipment generally are connected to utility poles under pole rental agreements with local public utilities, although in some areas the distribution cable is buried in underground ducts or trenches. The physical components of cable systems require periodic maintenance and replacement.
Our cable system signal reception sites, which consist primarily of antenna towers and headends, and our microwave facilities are located on owned and leased parcels of land, and we own or lease space on the towers on which certain of our equipment is located. We own most of our service vehicles.
Our high-speed internet network consists of fiber-optic cables owned or leased by us and related equipment. We also operate national and regional data centers with equipment that is used to provide services, such as email and web services, to our high-speed internet and voice customers, as well as cloud services to our video customers. In addition, we maintain network operations centers with equipment necessary to monitor and manage the status of our services and network.
We own or lease buildings throughout the United States that contain customer service call centers, retail stores and customer service centers, warehouses and administrative space. We also own a building that houses our digital media center. The digital
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media center contains equipment that we own or lease, including equipment related to network origination, video transmission via satellite and terrestrial fiber-optics, broadcast studios, post-production services and interactive television services.
NBCUniversal Segments
NBCUniversal’s corporate headquarters are located in New York, New York at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and surrounding campus and include offices and studios, which are used by Headquarters and Other and the Cable Networks and Broadcast Television segments. NBCUniversal owns substantially all of the space it occupies at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. NBCUniversal also leases space in 10 Rockefeller Plaza which includes The Today Show studio, production facilities and offices used by the Broadcast Television segment. Telemundo’s leased headquarters and production facilities are located in Miami, Florida and are used by the Broadcast Television segment and Headquarters and Other. The Universal City owned location in California includes offices, studios, and theme park and retail operations which are owned by NBCUniversal and used by all NBCUniversal segments. Our owned CNBC headquarters and production facilities and disaster recovery center are located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and are used by the Cable Networks and Broadcast Televisions segments and Headquarters and Other. We also own or lease offices, studios, production facilities, screening rooms, retail operations, warehouse space, satellite transmission receiving facilities and data centers in numerous locations in the United States and around the world, including property for our owned local broadcast television stations. In addition, we own theme parks and own or lease related facilities in Orlando, Florida; Hollywood, California; and Osaka, Japan, which are used in the Theme Parks segment, and are developing new theme parks in Beijing, China and Orlando, Florida.
Sky Segment
Sky’s principal physical assets consist of operating plant and equipment, including leased satellite system signal receiving, encoding and decoding devices, and owned and leased headends and distribution networks, including coaxial, fiber-optic cables and other related equipment. In the United Kingdom, Sky uses a combination of its own core fiber network and wholesaling arrangements over third-party telecommunication providers’ networks as the core network and also accesses the “last mile” network from third-party network operators for a fee to provide its services to customers. The physical components of cable systems require periodic maintenance and replacement.
Sky’s corporate headquarters are located in Middlesex, U.K. Sky owns the space it occupies at Middlesex. Sky leases the Sky Deutschland headquarters located in Unterföhring, Germany and the Sky Italia headquarters located in Milan, Italy.
Additionally, Sky owns and leases offices, production facilities and studios, broadcasting facilities, and customer support centers throughout Europe, including in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Austria. We are currently constructing a new studio production facility in Elstree, U.K., which Sky will lease upon completion.
Other
The Wells Fargo Center, a large, multipurpose arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that we own was the principal physical operating asset of our other businesses as of December 31, 2020.
Item 3: Legal Proceedings
See Note 16 included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of legal proceedings.
Item 4: Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.
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Part II
Item 5: Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Comcast’s Class A common stock is listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CMCSA. There is no established public trading market for Comcast’s Class B common stock. The Class B common stock can be converted, on a share for share basis, into Class A common stock. 
Dividends Declared
20202019
Month Declared:
Dividend Per Share
Month Declared:
Dividend Per Share
January$0.23 January$0.21 
May$0.23 May$0.21 
July$0.23 July$0.21 
October (paid in January 2021)$0.23 October (paid in January 2020)$0.21 
Total$0.92 Total$0.84 
We expect to continue to pay quarterly dividends, although each dividend is subject to approval by our Board of Directors. In January 2021, our Board of Directors approved a 9% increase in our dividend to $1.00 per share on an annualized basis.
Holders of Class A common stock in the aggregate hold 662/3% of the voting power of our common stock. The number of votes that each share of Class A common stock has at any given time depends on the number of shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock then outstanding, with each share of Class B common stock having 15 votes per share. The Class B common stock represents 331/3% of the combined voting power of our common stock, which percentage is generally non-dilutable under the terms of our articles of incorporation. Mr. Brian L. Roberts beneficially owns all outstanding shares of Class B common stock. Generally, including as to the election of directors, holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock vote as one class except where class voting is required by law.
Record holders as of December 31, 2020 are presented in the table below.
Stock Class
Record
Holders
Class A Common Stock371,292 
Class B Common Stock
 
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Stock Performance Graph
The following graph compares the annual percentage change in the cumulative total shareholder return on Comcast’s Class A common stock during the five years ended December 31, 2020 with the cumulative total returns on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index and a select peer group consisting of us and other companies engaged in the cable, communications and media industries. This peer group consists of our Class A common stock and the common stock of AT&T Inc., Charter Communications, Inc., DISH Network Corporation (Class A), Lumen Technologies, Inc. (formerly CenturyLink, Inc.), Sprint Corporation (which is included through April 1, 2020, when it merged with T-Mobile US, Inc.), T-Mobile US, Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. (the “transmission and distribution subgroup”); and Discovery, Inc. (Class A), ViacomCBS Inc. (Class B) and The Walt Disney Company (the “media subgroup”).
The peer group is constructed as a composite peer group in which the transmission and distribution subgroup is weighted 71% and the media subgroup is weighted 29% based on the respective revenue of our transmission and distribution and media businesses. The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2015 in our Class A common stock and in each of the following indices and assumes the reinvestment of dividends.
Comparison of 5 Year Cumulative Total Return
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20162017201820192020
Comcast Class A$125 $147 $128 $172 $205 
S&P 500 Stock Index$112 $136 $130 $171 $203 
Peer Group Index$126 $131 $121 $159 $175 
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Item 6: Selected Financial Data
Year ended December 31 (in millions, except per share data)
20202019
2018(c)
2017(d)
2016
Statement of Income Data
Revenue
$103,564 $108,942 $94,507 $85,029 $80,736 
Operating income
17,493 21,125 19,009 18,018 16,831 
Net income attributable to Comcast Corporation(a)
10,534 13,057 11,731 22,735 8,678 
Basic earnings per common share attributable to Comcast Corporation shareholders
2.30 2.87 2.56 4.83 1.80 
Diluted earnings per common share attributable to Comcast Corporation shareholders
2.28 2.83 2.53 4.75 1.78 
Dividends declared per common share0.92 0.84 0.76 0.63 0.55 
Balance Sheet Data (at year end)
Total assets$273,869 $263,414 $251,684 $187,462 $181,017 
Long-term debt(b)
103,760 102,217 111,743 64,556 61,046 
Comcast Corporation shareholders’ equity90,323 82,726 71,613 68,616 53,932 
Statement of Cash Flows Data
Net cash provided by (used in):
Operating activities$24,737 $25,697 $24,297 $21,261 $19,691 
Investing activities
(12,047)(14,841)(50,854)(13,533)(18,265)
Financing activities
(6,513)(9,181)27,140 7,572 (434)
(a)For 2020 and 2019, refer to Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a discussion of the effects of items impacting net income attributable to Comcast Corporation. In 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016, net income attributable to Comcast Corporation is stated after deducting net income attributable to noncontrolling interests of $167 million, $266 million, $131 million, $187 million and $350 million, respectively.
(b)Includes long-term debt and the current portion of long-term debt as presented in the consolidated balance sheet. Refer to footnotes to the consolidated financial statements for discussion of our accounting policies related to debt obligations.
(c)Amounts include Sky from the date of acquisition on October 9, 2018. Refer to Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements for further discussion.
(d)2017 net income attributable to Comcast Corporation and earnings per common share attributable to Comcast Corporation shareholders included a $12.7 billion net income tax benefit as a result of the impacts of the 2017 tax reform legislation.
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Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Introduction
Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations is provided as a supplement to, and should be read in conjunction with, the consolidated financial statements and related notes to enhance the understanding of our operations and our present business environment. Components of management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations include:
Overview
Results of Operations
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Contractual Obligations
Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Critical Accounting Judgments and Estimates
Overview
We are a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky. We present our operations for (1) Comcast Cable in one reportable business segment, referred to as Cable Communications; (2) NBCUniversal in four reportable business segments: Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment and Theme Parks; and (3) Sky in one reportable business segment. For more information about our company’s operations, see Item 1: Business. Additionally, refer to Item 7: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in our 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K for management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations for the fiscal year 2019 compared to fiscal year 2018.
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Consolidated Revenue, Net Income Attributable to Comcast Corporation and Adjusted EBITDA(a)
(in billions)
RevenueNet Income Attributable to Comcast CorporationAdjusted EBITDA
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(a)Adjusted EBITDA is a financial measure that is not defined by generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”). Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Measure” section on page 57 for additional information, including our definition and our use of Adjusted EBITDA, and for a reconciliation from net income attributable to Comcast Corporation to Adjusted EBITDA.
2020 Consolidated Operating Results(a)
RevenueAdjusted EBITDA
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(a)Charts exclude the results of Corporate and Other, and eliminations.

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2020 Developments
The following are the more significant developments in our businesses during 2020:
Overall
COVID-19 materially impacted our 2020 results of operations. While Cable Communications results were strong, NBCUniversal and Sky results experienced material negative impacts due to the temporary closure of our theme parks and the postponement of sporting events, respectively.
Repaid $18.8 billion and issued $18.6 billion of long-term debt in 2020 ending the year with $11.7 billion of cash on hand. This financing activity resulted in a reduction in the weighted-average cost of debt due to the favorable interest rate environment and provides additional liquidity given the risks associated with the economic conditions caused by COVID-19.
Cable Communications
Revenue increased 3.4% to $60.1 billion, reflecting increases in high-speed internet, wireless, business services and advertising revenue, partially offset by declines in voice, video and other revenue.
Adjusted EBITDA increased 8.6% to $25.3 billion.
Operating margin increased from 40.1% to 42.1%, reflecting increases in revenue from high-speed internet and business services and decreases in losses in our wireless business.
Total customer relationships increased by 1.6 million, total high-speed internet customers increased 2.0 million and total video customers decreased 1.4 million.
Capital expenditures decreased 4.4% to $6.6 billion, reflecting lower spending on customer premise equipment and support capital, partially offset by an increase in spending on scalable infrastructure.
NBCUniversal
Total NBCUniversal revenue decreased 17.3% to $28.1 billion and total NBCUniversal Adjusted EBITDA decreased 28.5% to $6.3 billion driven by the impacts of COVID-19.
Cable Networks and Broadcast Television segments revenue decreased 5.8% to $10.8 billion and 0.2% to $10.2 billion, respectively, reflecting decreases in advertising revenue, partially offset by increases in content licensing revenue. Distribution revenue decreased at Cable Networks and increased at Broadcast Television.
Filmed Entertainment segment revenue decreased 18.7% to $5.3 billion, reflecting lower theatrical and other revenues as a result of theater closures due to COVID-19, partially offset by an increase in content licensing revenue.
Theme Parks segment revenue decreased 68.9% to $1.8 billion and Adjusted EBITDA decreased from $2.5 billion to a loss of $541 million, reflecting the temporary theme parks closures due to COVID-19.
Sky
Sky revenue decreased 3.3% to $18.6 billion. Excluding the impact of foreign currency, Sky revenue decreased 4.2% due to decreases in direct-to-consumer, advertising and content revenues driven by impacts of COVID-19.
Sky Adjusted EBITDA decreased 37.0% to $2.0 billion. Excluding the impact of foreign currency, Sky Adjusted EBITDA decreased 37.6% primarily due to the decreases in revenue.
Other
Launched Peacock, our direct-to-consumer streaming service that features NBCUniversal content, which was made available to Comcast customers in April 2020 and launched nationally in July 2020.
Corporate and Other revenue increased 9.8% to $366 million primarily due to revenue generated from Peacock.
Corporate and Other Adjusted EBITDA losses increased from $880 million to $2.4 billion primarily due to severance charges and costs associated with Peacock.
Impacts of COVID-19
COVID-19 and measures taken to prevent its spread across the globe have impacted our businesses in a number of ways. Our Cable Communications results of operations were strong in 2020, despite having been affected by the significant deterioration in domestic economic conditions and by the costs associated with our support of customer connectivity as people worked and learned remotely from home. COVID-19 had material negative impacts on NBCUniversal and Sky results of operations during
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2020 primarily due to the temporary closure of our theme parks and disruption of professional sports seasons, respectively. We expect the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have a material adverse impact on our consolidated results of operations over the near to medium term, although the extent of such impact will depend on restrictive governmental measures, further deterioration of the global economy and widespread availability of vaccines.
Cable Communications
Our distribution network performed well under the stress of increased traffic and peak usage driven by increased video streaming, gaming and videoconferencing as customers worked and learned remotely from home.
We incurred costs in 2020 associated with compensating personnel in roles affected by COVID-19, primarily during the first half of the year. These costs included additional compensation for frontline personnel who worked to keep our customers connected to our services and compensation for certain personnel who were unable to work due to the closing or suspension of operations.
Beginning in March 2020 and continuing through June 2021, new qualifying customers for Internet Essentials, our low-income internet adoption program, receive 60 days of free internet services. We also implemented programs, primarily during the second quarter of 2020, under which we elected to waive certain fees and to not disconnect internet, voice or wireless services for customers for nonpayment, and we are providing customers a variety of flexible and extended payment options. As a result of these programs, our customer metrics for 2020 do not include customers in the free Internet Essentials offer or certain high-risk customers who continued to receive service following nonpayment. The number of customers excluded from our customer metrics was highest as of June 30, 2020 and these customers were excluded from second quarter net additions. The number of such customers decreased in the third and fourth quarters as some of these customers either began paying for service, resulting in customer net additions, or disconnected and no longer receive service. We expect the number of excluded customers to continue to decrease in future quarters.
Certain professional sports leagues were disrupted due to COVID-19, generally resulting in postponed or canceled matches and reduced schedules. Certain of our programming distribution agreements with regional sports networks include contractual adjustment provisions if a minimum number of sporting events does not occur. Our programming expenses were reduced as a result of these provisions, and our revenue was negatively impacted in similar amounts as a result of adjustments that we passed through to our customers in 2020 and continue to pass through in the first quarter of 2021.
The deterioration of economic conditions and increased economic uncertainty resulting from COVID-19 have resulted in reduced demand for certain of our residential and business services and reduced spending from advertisers, which have had and, while we have seen some improvement over the course of 2020, likely will continue to have, negative impacts on our revenue over the near to medium term. In addition, we believe there is increased risk associated with collections on our outstanding receivables, and we have incurred, and may continue to incur, increases in our bad debt expense.
NBCUniversal
The temporary closure of all of our theme parks had the most significant impact on our revenue and Adjusted EBITDA for the year ended December 31, 2020 on a consolidated basis. Our parks in Orlando and Japan reopened with limited capacity in June 2020, while our park in Hollywood remains closed. We expect the results of operations at our theme parks will continue to be negatively impacted in the near to medium term, and we cannot predict with certainty when the Hollywood park will reopen, if any reopened parks will remain open or the level of attendance at any reopened parks. In addition, although we currently expect that Universal Beijing Resort will open in 2021, we have delayed certain construction projects, including the development of the Epic Universe theme park in Orlando.
The deterioration of economic conditions caused by COVID-19 resulted in significant reductions in advertising spend by our customers in the Cable Networks and Broadcast Television segments and, while we have seen some improvement over the course of 2020, we expect this trend to continue over the near to medium term. There has also been, and likely will continue to be, an acceleration of subscriber losses at our networks.
We incurred costs in 2020 associated with compensating personnel who were unable to work due to the closing or suspension of operations due to COVID-19, primarily during the first half of the year, including at our theme parks and at our production studios.
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The postponement and cancellation of many sporting events and professional sports seasons caused by COVID-19 impacted our results of operations during 2020, since both advertising revenues and costs associated with broadcasting these programs are recognized when events are broadcast. While professional sports leagues generally resumed and completed their seasons in the second half of 2020, some had reduced numbers of events for the remainder of the interrupted seasons. Certain of our sports programming rights agreements and distribution agreements with multichannel video providers require contractual adjustments if a minimum number of sporting events does not occur. Our distribution revenue was negatively impacted as a result of credits accrued relating to these provisions; and the programming costs that we recognized as the remaining events occurred were also impacted. In addition, there have been, and there may be in the future, delays to the start of the current or upcoming seasons for certain professional sports leagues. When, or the extent to which, sporting events will occur in 2021 will impact the timing, and potentially the amount, of revenue and expense recognition. In addition, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed from the third quarter of 2020 to the third quarter of 2021, resulting in a corresponding delay of the associated revenue and costs.
The creation and availability of our film and television programming in the United States and globally have been disrupted, including from the suspension of studio production operations in the first half of 2020. Our studio production operations have resumed at a limited capacity. Additionally, with the temporary closure of many movie theaters worldwide, we have delayed or altered the theatrical distribution strategy for certain of our films, both domestically and internationally. Delays in theatrical releases affect both current and future periods as a result of corresponding delays in subsequent content licensing windows. We expect results of operations in our Filmed Entertainment segment to continue to be negatively impacted over the near to medium term as a result of COVID-19.
Sky
Direct-to-consumer revenue has been negatively impacted as a result of lower sports subscription revenue due to the disruption of professional sports seasons and future periods may be negatively impacted as a result of the reopening plans and the extent of reopening of our commercial customers. While sporting events generally resumed late in the second quarter of 2020 and the interrupted seasons were completed, there were delays to the start of the current seasons for certain sports, including European soccer. As a result, significant costs associated with broadcasting these programs were not recognized in 2020. COVID-19 continues to result in uncertainty in the ultimate timing of when, or the extent to which, sporting events will occur in future periods; their broadcast is expected to impact the timing, and potentially the amount, of revenue and expense recognition.
We temporarily suspended certain sales channels due to COVID-19, which negatively impacted net customer additions and revenue in the first half of 2020. Our sales channels generally resumed operations in June 2020.
COVID-19 has resulted in the deterioration of economic conditions and increased economic uncertainty in Europe, intensifying what was an already deteriorating economic and advertising environment. These conditions negatively impacted revenue in 2020 and, while we have seen some improvement over the course of 2020, we expect COVID-19 likely will continue to negatively impact advertising spend and consumer demand for our services in 2021. In addition, there is increased risk associated with collections on our outstanding receivables, and we have incurred and may continue to incur increases in our bad debt expense.
We have implemented and will continue to implement cost savings initiatives across our businesses that have impacted and will continue to impact our results of operations; certain costs incurred by our businesses in response to COVID-19, including severance, are presented in Corporate and Other. Our businesses implemented separate cost savings initiatives, with the most significant relating to severance at NBCUniversal in connection with the realignment of the operating structure in our television businesses as well as overall reductions in the cost base. We do not anticipate significant incremental costs to be incurred under these plans, and payments related to NBCUniversal employee severance are expected to be completed in 2021. NBCUniversal employee-related costs savings will be realized in operating costs and expenses primarily beginning in 2021 and a portion of these cost savings may be reallocated to investments in content and other strategic initiatives.
Global financial markets have been volatile and domestic and global economic conditions continue to show signs of material weakness. At this point, it is impossible to predict the extent and duration of these and any other impacts of COVID-19 to our businesses, or the degree to which demand for our products and services, or supply of key inputs to those products and services, will be affected. This uncertainty makes it challenging for management to estimate with precision the future performance of our businesses.
As of December 31, 2020, we evaluated whether the facts and circumstances and available information resulted in the need for an impairment assessment for any of our long-lived assets and concluded no assessment was required. Refer to the Critical
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Accounting Judgments and Estimates section for discussion of our impairment testing of goodwill and cable franchise rights. We will continue to evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 on our businesses, including the impacts of overall economic conditions, which could result in the recognition of an impairment charge in the future.
Liquidity
Although negatively impacted by the effects of COVID-19, we expect that our businesses will continue to generate significant cash flows from operating activities and we believe that these cash flows, together with our existing cash, cash equivalents and investments, available borrowings under our existing credit facilities and our ability to obtain future external financing, will be sufficient for us to meet our current and long-term liquidity and capital requirements. In 2020, we issued $18.6 billion of long-term debt, the proceeds of which were used to repay existing indebtedness and increase cash on our balance sheet in order to bolster liquidity and strengthen our financial position as a result of the increased uncertainty related to the duration and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also took actions to conservatively manage cash through reductions in costs and capital expenditures in 2020. We expect the timing of certain priorities may continue to be impacted, such as the pace of our debt reduction efforts and returning capital to shareholders, and the delay of certain capital projects.
Competition
All of our businesses operate in intensely competitive, consumer-driven and rapidly changing environments and compete with a growing number of companies that provide a broad range of communications products and services, and entertainment, news and information content to consumers. For additional information on the competition our businesses face, see Item 1: Business and Item 1A: Risk Factors. Within the Business section, refer to the “Competition” discussion, and within the Risk Factors section, refer to the risk factors entitled “Our businesses operate in highly competitive and dynamic industries, and our businesses and results of operations could be adversely affected if we do not compete effectively” and “Changes in consumer behavior driven by online video distribution platforms for viewing content continue to adversely affect our businesses and challenge existing business models.”
Seasonality and Cyclicality
Each of our businesses is typically subject to seasonal and cyclical variations. See Item 1: Business and refer to the “Seasonality and Cyclicality” discussion within that section for additional information.
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Consolidated Operating Results
Year ended December 31 (in millions, except per share data)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue$103,564 $108,942 $94,507 (4.9)%15.3 %
Costs and Expenses:
Programming and production33,121 34,440 29,692 (3.8)16.0 
Other operating and administrative33,109 32,807 28,094 0.9 16.8 
Advertising, marketing and promotion6,741 7,617 7,036 (11.5)8.2 
Depreciation8,320 8,663 8,281 (4.0)4.6 
Amortization4,780 4,290 2,736 11.4 56.8 
Other operating gains — (341)NM
Total costs and expenses86,071 87,817 75,498 (2.0)16.3 
Operating income17,493 21,125 19,009 (17.2)11.1 
Interest expense(4,588)(4,567)(3,542)0.5 28.9 
Investment and other income (loss), net1,160 438 (225)164.8 294.6 
Income before income taxes14,065 16,996 15,242 (17.2)11.5 
Income tax (expense) benefit (3,364)(3,673)(3,380)(8.4)8.7 
Net income10,701 13,323 11,862 (19.7)12.3 
Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable subsidiary preferred stock167 266 131 (37.5)102.7 
Net income attributable to Comcast Corporation$10,534 $13,057 $11,731 (19.3)%11.3 %
Basic earnings per common share attributable to Comcast Corporation shareholders
$2.30 $2.87 $2.56 (19.9)%12.1 %
Diluted earnings per common share attributable to Comcast Corporation shareholders
$2.28 $2.83 $2.53 (19.4)%11.9 %
Adjusted EBITDA(a)
$30,826 $34,258 $30,165 (10.0)%13.6 %
All percentages are calculated based on actual amounts. Minor differences may exist due to rounding. 
Percentage changes that are considered not meaningful are denoted with NM.
(a)Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure. Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Measure” section on page 57 for additional information, including our definition and our use of Adjusted EBITDA, and for a reconciliation from net income attributable to Comcast Corporation to Adjusted EBITDA.
The comparability of our consolidated results of operations was impacted by the Sky transaction in the fourth quarter of 2018. Sky’s results of operations are included in our consolidated financial statements following the October 9, 2018 acquisition date.
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Consolidated Revenue
The following graph illustrates the contributions to the change in consolidated revenue made by our Cable Communications, NBCUniversal and Sky segments, as well as by Corporate and Other activities, including eliminations.
https://cdn.kscope.io/0144db67ce9bf87670327c1b68e22204-cmcsa-20201231_g7.jpg
The primary drivers of the change in revenue from 2019 to 2020 were as follows:
A decrease in our NBCUniversal segments revenue primarily due to the impacts of COVID-19 resulting in decreased revenue at the Theme Parks, Filmed Entertainment, Cable Networks and Broadcast segments.
A decrease in Corporate, Other and Eliminations revenue primarily due to an increase in eliminations as a result of the licensing of content between our NBCUniversal segments and Peacock.
A decrease in our Sky segment revenue primarily due to the impacts of COVID-19 resulting in decreased direct-to-consumer, advertising and content revenue, as well as the impact of foreign currency translation.
Growth in our Cable Communications segment revenue driven by increased revenue from high-speed internet, wireless, business services and advertising, partially offset by decreased revenue from voice, video and other revenue.
Revenue for our segments and other businesses is discussed separately below under the heading “Segment Operating Results.”
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Consolidated Costs and Expenses
The following graph illustrates the contributions to the change in consolidated operating costs and expenses, representing total costs and expenses excluding depreciation and amortization expense, made by our Cable Communications, NBCUniversal and Sky segments, as well as by Corporate and Other activities, including eliminations.
https://cdn.kscope.io/0144db67ce9bf87670327c1b68e22204-cmcsa-20201231_g8.jpg
The primary drivers of the change in operating costs and expenses from 2019 to 2020 were as follows:
A decrease in NBCUniversal expenses primarily due to the impacts of COVID-19, which led to decreased expenses in our Filmed Entertainment, Theme Parks, Cable Networks and Broadcast segments.
Flat Cable Communications segment expenses primarily due to decreased advertising, marketing and promotion expenses and customer service expenses, offset by an increase in programming expenses, other expenses, technical product support costs, and franchise and other regulatory fees.
An increase in Corporate, Other and Eliminations expenses primarily due to certain costs incurred in response to COVID-19, including severance charges related to our businesses, costs associated with Peacock, and a legal settlement, partially offset by an increase in eliminations as a result of our licensing content between our NBCUniversal segments and Peacock.
An increase in our Sky segment’s expenses primarily due to an increase in other costs and direct network costs, partially offset by a decrease in programming and production costs and the impacts of foreign currency translation.
Operating costs and expenses for our segments and our corporate operations, business development initiatives and other businesses are discussed separately below under the heading “Segment Operating Results.”
Consolidated Depreciation and Amortization Expense
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Cable Communications$7,753 $7,994 $8,262 (3.0)%(3.2)%
NBCUniversal2,278 2,129 2,108 7.0 0.9 
Sky3,034 2,699 539 12.4 NM
Corporate and Other35 131 108 (74.1)21.4 
Comcast Consolidated$13,100 $12,953 $11,017 1.1 %17.6 %
Percentage changes that are considered not meaningful are denoted with NM.
NBCUniversal and Sky depreciation and amortization expense increased in 2020 primarily due to amortization of certain trade names beginning in the first quarter of 2020, which were previously accounted for as indefinite-lived intangible assets (see Note 11). Cable Communications depreciation and amortization expense decreased due to lower spending on customer premise equipment and support capital, partially offset by an increase in spending on scalable infrastructure.
Amortization expense from acquisition-related intangible assets totaled $2.3 billion, $2.0 billion and $1.1 billion for 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Amounts primarily relate to customer relationship intangible assets recorded in connection with the Sky transaction in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the NBCUniversal transaction in 2011.
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Consolidated Interest Expense
Interest expense was flat in 2020 compared to 2019 as $360 million of charges related to the early redemption of senior notes were offset by lower weighted-average interest rates and a decrease in average debt outstanding.
Consolidated Investment and Other Income (Loss), Net
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018
Equity in net income (losses) of investees, net$(113)$(505)$(364)
Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on equity securities, net1,014 656 (187)
Other income (loss), net259 287 326 
Total investment and other income (loss), net$1,160 $438 $(225)
Equity in Net Income (Losses) of Investees, Net
The change in equity in net income (losses) of investees, net in 2020 compared to 2019 was primarily due to our investment in Atairos Group, Inc. and our reduced share of net losses for other equity method investments. The income (losses) at Atairos were driven by fair value adjustments on its underlying investments with income of $286 million in 2020 and losses of $64 million in 2019. See Note 9 for additional information related to our investments.
Realized and Unrealized Gains (Losses) on Equity Securities, Net
Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on equity securities, net in 2020 were primarily as a result of gains relating to transactions involving FanDuel and PointsBet and a public offering by fuboTV, as well as gains related to our investment in Peloton, which was sold during 2020. Realized and unrealized gains (losses) on equity securities, net in 2019 resulted primarily from gains related to our interests in Snap, which was sold in 2019, and Peloton as a result of its initial public offering in 2019. See Note 9 for additional information related to our investments.
Other Income (Loss), Net
The change in other income (loss), net in 2020 compared to 2019 was primarily due to the recognition of $219 million of gains related to the dilution of our Hulu ownership in 2019, partially offset by foreign currency gains and lower impairments related to equity method investments in 2020.
Consolidated Income Tax (Expense) Benefit
Our effective income tax rate in 2020 and 2019 was 23.9% and 21.6%, respectively.
In 2020, the effective income tax rate included $145 million of expense relating to the impact of tax law changes in the third quarter of 2020.
In 2019, the effective income tax rate included $125 million of benefits related to state income tax adjustments recognized in the third quarter of 2019.
Consolidated Net Income Attributable to Noncontrolling Interests and Redeemable Subsidiary Preferred Stock
The decrease in net income attributable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable subsidiary preferred stock in 2020 compared to 2019 was primarily due to our acquisition of the remaining interest of one of our noncontrolling interests.
Segment Operating Results
Our segment operating results are presented based on how we assess operating performance and internally report financial information. We use Adjusted EBITDA as the measure of profit or loss for our operating segments (see Note 2).
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Cable Communications Segment Results of Operations
Revenue and Adjusted EBITDA
Residential Customer Relationships
(in billions)(in millions)
https://cdn.kscope.io/0144db67ce9bf87670327c1b68e22204-cmcsa-20201231_g9.jpg
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue
Residential:
High-speed internet$20,599 $18,752 $17,144 9.9 %9.4 %
Video21,937 22,270 22,455 (1.5)(0.8)
Voice3,532 3,879 3,960 (8.9)(2.1)
Wireless1,574 1,167 890 34.9 31.2 
Business services8,191 7,795 7,129 5.1 9.3 
Advertising2,594 2,465 2,795 5.2 (11.8)
Other1,624 1,754 1,660 (7.5)5.7 
Total revenue60,051 58,082 56,033 3.4 3.7 
Operating costs and expenses
Programming13,498 13,389 13,249 0.8 1.1 
Technical and product support8,022 7,973 7,569 0.6 5.3 
Customer service2,432 2,494 2,536 (2.5)(1.6)
Advertising, marketing and promotion3,759 4,014 4,002 (6.3)0.3 
Franchise and other regulatory fees1,625 1,582 1,578 2.7 0.2 
Other5,445 5,364 5,418 1.5 (1.0)
Total operating costs and expenses34,781 34,816 34,352 (0.1)1.4 
Adjusted EBITDA$25,270 $23,266 $21,681 8.6 %7.3 %
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Customer Metrics
  
Net Additions
(in thousands)202020192018202020192018
Customer relationships
Residential customer relationships
30,718 29,149 28,109 1,569 1,040 925 
Business services customer relationships
2,426 2,396 2,303 30 94 123 
Total customer relationships33,144 31,545 30,412 1,599 1,134 1,048 
Residential customer relationships mix
One product customers
12,434 10,247 9,015 2,187 1,232 840 
Two product customers
8,734 8,923 8,992 (188)(69)(25)
Three or more product customers
9,550 9,979 10,102 (429)(123)110 
High-speed internet
Residential customers
28,351 26,414 25,097 1,937 1,317 1,234 
Business services customers
2,248 2,215 2,125 34 89 120 
Total high-speed internet customers30,600 28,629 27,222 1,971 1,406 1,353 
Video
Residential customers
18,993 20,288 20,959 (1,295)(671)(344)
Business services customers
852 966 1,027 (114)(61)(27)
Total video customers19,846 21,254 21,986 (1,408)(733)(370)
Voice
Residential customers
9,645 9,934 10,153 (289)(218)(163)
Business services customers
1,357 1,342 1,297 15 46 60 
Total voice customers11,002 11,276 11,449 (275)(173)(103)
Wireless
Wireless lines2,826 2,052 1,236 774 816 854 
Customer metrics are presented based on actual amounts. Minor differences may exist due to rounding. Customer relationships represent the number of residential and business customers that subscribe to at least one of our services. One product, two product, and three or more product customers represent residential customers that subscribe to one, two, or three or more of our services, respectively. For MDUs, including buildings located on college campuses, whose residents have the ability to receive additional services, such as additional programming choices or our HD or DVR services, we count and report customers based on the number of potential billable relationships within each MDU. For MDUs whose residents are not able to receive additional services, the MDU is counted as a single customer. Residential high-speed internet and video customer metrics include certain customers that have prepaid for services. Wireless lines represent the number of activated eligible wireless devices on customers’ accounts. Individual customer relationships may have multiple wireless lines. Customer metrics for 2020 do not include certain high-risk customers who continue to receive service following nonpayment or customers in the free Internet Essentials offer (refer to “Impacts of COVID-19” for further discussion).
202020192018% Change 2019 to 2020% Change 2018 to 2019
Average monthly total revenue per customer relationship$154.71 $156.24 $156.23 (1.0)%— %
Average monthly Adjusted EBITDA per customer relationship$65.11 $62.59 $60.45 4.0 %3.5 %
Average monthly total revenue per customer relationship is impacted by rate adjustments and changes in the types and levels of services received by our residential and business services customers, as well as changes in advertising revenue. While revenue from our residential high-speed internet, video and voice services is also impacted by changes in the allocation of revenue among services sold in a bundle, the allocation does not impact average monthly total revenue per customer relationship. Average rates in 2020 were negatively impacted by customer adjustments accrued as a result of provisions in our programming distribution agreements with regional sports networks related to canceled sporting events. For customers receiving bundled services, the revenue reduction was allocated across each of the services in the bundle.
Each of our services has a different contribution to operating margin and we also use average monthly Adjusted EBITDA per customer relationship to evaluate the profitability of our customer base across our service offerings. We believe these metrics are useful to understand the trends in our business and average monthly Adjusted EBITDA per customer relationship is useful particularly as we continue to focus on growing our higher-margin businesses, including residential high-speed internet and business services.
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Cable Communications Segment – Revenue
We are a leading provider of high-speed internet, video, voice, wireless, and security and automation services to residential customers in the United States under the Xfinity brand; we also provide these and other services to business customers and sell advertising. Revenue is generated primarily from residential and business customers that subscribe to our services, which are marketed individually and as bundled services. We also generate revenue from selling through our allocation of scheduled advertising time on cable networks that is received as part of distribution agreements with these networks to local, regional and national advertisers.
High-Speed Internet
We offer high-speed internet services with downstream speeds that range up to 1.2 Gbps and fiber-based speeds that range up to 2 Gbps. We also deploy xFi-enabled wireless gateways that deliver internet and voice connectivity, whole-home Wi-Fi coverage, network control and advanced security features. We believe our customer base will continue to grow as consumers choose our high-speed internet service and seek higher-speed offerings.
Revenue increased in 2020 primarily due to an increase in the number of residential high-speed internet customers. The remaining increase in revenue in 2020 was due to an increase in average rates. Average rates in 2020 were negatively impacted by waived fees due to COVID-19 and the impacts of customer adjustments. Refer to video description below for further information.
Video
We offer a broad variety of video services packages that may include premium networks, pay-per-view services and our On Demand service. Our video customers may also subscribe for additional fees to our HD and DVR services.
Revenue decreased in 2020 primarily due to a decline in the number of residential video customers, partially offset by an increase in average rates. Average rates in 2020 were negatively impacted by customer adjustments accrued as a result of provisions in our programming distribution agreements with regional sports networks related to canceled sporting events. For customers receiving bundled services, the revenue reduction was allocated across each of the services in the bundle.
We have experienced, and expect that we will continue to experience, declines in the number of residential video customers due to competitive pressures, and we expect that our video revenue will continue to decline as a result of the competitive environment and shifting video consumption patterns. We believe our X1 platform helps us compete more effectively against this competition, and have also continued to employ sales and marketing programs, such as promotions, bundled service offerings and service offerings targeted at specific market segments.
Voice
We offer voice services that provide local and long-distance calling and other related features.
Revenue decreased in 2020 primarily due to a decrease in average rates and a decline in the number of residential voice customers.
We expect that the number of residential voice customers and voice revenue will continue to decline.
Wireless
We offer wireless phone services to customers that may choose to pay for services on an unlimited data plan, shared data plans, or per gigabyte of data used.
Revenue increased in 2020 primarily due to an increase in the number of customer lines.
Business Services
We offer a variety of products and services to businesses. Our service offerings for small business locations primarily include high-speed internet services, as well as voice and video services, that are similar to those provided to residential customers, and include certain other features specific to businesses. We also offer Ethernet network services that connect multiple locations and other services to meet the needs of medium-sized customers and larger enterprises, and we provide cellular backhaul services to mobile network operators.
Revenue increased in 2020 primarily due to increases in average rates and an increase in the number of customers receiving our services. The rates of growth were reduced due to the negative impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses.
Advertising
As part of our distribution agreements with cable networks, we generally receive an allocation of scheduled advertising time that is sold through our advertising business to local, regional and national advertisers. We also represent the advertising sales
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efforts of other multichannel video providers in some markets. In addition, we generate revenue from the sale of advertising on our digital platforms. We also provide technology, tools, data-driven services and marketplace solutions to customers in the media industry, which allow advertisers to more effectively engage with their target audiences. Revenue is affected by the strength of the advertising market, general economic conditions, and cyclicality related to political campaigns and issue-oriented advertising.
Revenue increased in 2020 primarily due to an increase in political advertising, partially offset by a reduction in spending from advertisers due to COVID-19.
In 2020, 4% of our advertising revenue was generated from our NBCUniversal segments, compared to 5% and 4% in 2019 and 2018, respectively. These amounts are eliminated in our consolidated financial statements but are included in the amounts presented above.
Other
Other revenue primarily includes revenue related to our security and automation services. We also receive revenue related to residential customer late fees and from services, such as the licensing of our technology platforms to other multichannel video providers.
Revenue decreased in 2020 primarily due to certain waived billing and collection fees due to COVID-19, partially offset by higher revenue from the licensing of our technology platforms to other multichannel video providers.
Cable Communications Segment – Operating Costs and Expenses
Programming Expenses
Programming expenses, which represent our most significant operating expense, are the fees we incur to provide content to our customers. These expenses are affected by the programming license fees charged by content providers, the fees charged for retransmission of the signals from local broadcast television stations, the number of customers we serve and the amount of content we provide.
Expenses increased slightly in 2020 primarily due to increases in retransmission consent and sports programming fees, partially offset by declines in the number of video subscribers. The increase in expenses was also offset by the impact of adjustment provisions in our programming distribution agreements with regional sports networks related to canceled sporting events as a result of COVID-19.
We anticipate that our programming expenses will be impacted by rate increases to a greater extent in 2021 compared to 2020 due to the timing of contract renewals, partially offset by expected declines in the number of residential video customers.
Technical and Product Support Expenses
Expenses include costs to complete service call and installation activities, as well as costs for network operations, product development, fulfillment and provisioning, as well as the cost of wireless handsets and tablets sold to customers and monthly wholesale wireless access fees.
Expenses were flat in 2020 primarily due to increased costs associated with our wireless phone service and increased costs related to COVID-19, including additional compensation costs for certain personnel, offset by cost savings initiatives implemented during the current year, as well as a reduction in activity in certain aspects of our business.
Customer Service Expenses
Expenses include the personnel and other costs associated with handling the sale of services to customers and customer service activity.
Expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to lower labor costs as a result of reduced call volumes and cost savings initiatives implemented during the current year, partially offset by an increase in costs as a result of additional Xfinity stores.
Advertising, Marketing and Promotion Expenses
Expenses include the costs associated with attracting new customers and promoting our service offerings.
Expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to a decrease in spending.
Franchise and Other Regulatory Fees
Franchise and other regulatory fees represent the fees we are required to pay to federal, state and local authorities under the terms of our cable franchise agreements.
Franchise and other regulatory fees increased in 2020 primarily due to increases in the related rates of these fees.
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Other Expenses
Expenses primarily include personnel costs, advertising expenses, and building and facilities costs.
Other operating costs and expenses increased in 2020 primarily due to an increase in bad debt expense as a result of COVID-19.
Cable Communications Segment – Operating Margin
Our operating margin is Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of revenue. We believe this metric is useful particularly as we continue to focus on growing our higher-margin businesses, including residential high-speed internet and business services, and on reducing losses related to our wireless phone service and improving overall operating cost management. The most significant operating costs and expenses are the programming expenses we incur to provide content to our video customers, which were flat in 2020.
Our operating margin was 42.1%, 40.1% and 38.7% in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. While accrued adjustments for regional sports networks did not impact Adjusted EBITDA in 2020, they resulted in an increase to operating margins. Losses from our wireless phone service were $206 million, $401 million and $743 million in 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
NBCUniversal Segments Overview
2020 NBCUniversal Segments Operating Results(a)
Revenue
Adjusted EBITDA
(in billions)(in billions)
https://cdn.kscope.io/0144db67ce9bf87670327c1b68e22204-cmcsa-20201231_g10.jpg
(a)Segment details in the charts exclude the results of NBCUniversal Headquarters, Other and Eliminations and therefore the amounts do not equal the total. Revenue and Adjusted EBITDA charts are not presented on the same scale.
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Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue
Cable Networks$10,849 $11,513 $11,773 (5.8)%(2.2)%
Broadcast Television10,244 10,261 11,439 (0.2)(10.3)
Filmed Entertainment
5,276 6,493 7,152 (18.7)(9.2)
Theme Parks1,846 5,933 5,683 (68.9)4.4 
Headquarters, other and eliminations
(133)(233)(286)NMNM
Total revenue$28,082 $33,967 $35,761 (17.3)%(5.0)%
Adjusted EBITDA
Cable Networks$4,616 $4,444 $4,428 3.9 %0.4 %
Broadcast Television1,934 1,730 1,657 11.8 4.4 
Filmed Entertainment785 833 734 (5.8)13.5 
Theme Parks(541)2,455 2,455 (122.0)— 
Headquarters, other and eliminations
(525)(690)(676)NMNM
Total Adjusted EBITDA
$6,269 $8,772 $8,598 (28.5)%2.0 %
Percentage changes that are considered not meaningful are denoted with NM.
Cable Networks Segment Results of Operations
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue
Distribution$6,437 $6,790 $6,826 (5.2)%(0.5)%
Advertising3,155 3,478 3,587 (9.3)(3.0)
Content licensing and other1,257 1,245 1,360 1.0 (8.5)
Total revenue10,849 11,513 11,773 (5.8)(2.2)
Operating costs and expenses
Programming and production4,452 5,107 5,357 (12.8)(4.7)
Other operating and administrative1,438 1,499 1,453 (4.1)3.2 
Advertising, marketing and promotion343 463 535 (25.8)(13.6)
Total operating costs and expenses6,233 7,069 7,345 (11.8)(3.8)
Adjusted EBITDA
$4,616 $4,444 $4,428 3.9 %0.4 %
Cable Networks Segment – Revenue
Distribution
Revenue is generated from the distribution of our cable network programming to traditional and virtual multichannel video providers and is affected by the number of subscribers receiving our cable networks and the fees we charge per subscriber.
Distribution revenue decreased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to increased declines in the number of subscribers at our cable networks, partially offset by increases in the contractual rates charged under distribution agreements. The decrease was also due to credits accrued at some of our regional sports networks resulting from the reduced number of games played by professional sports leagues due to COVID-19. Certain of our distribution agreements with multichannel video providers require contractual adjustments if a minimum number of sporting events does not occur.
Advertising
Revenue is generated from the sale of advertising units sold on our cable networks and digital properties. Advertising revenue is primarily based on the price we charge for each advertising unit, which is generally based on audience ratings, the value of our viewer demographics to advertisers and the number of advertising units we can place in our cable networks’ programming schedules. Advertising revenue is affected by the audience ratings of our programming, the strength of the national advertising market and general economic conditions.
Advertising revenue decreased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to continued audience ratings declines at our networks and reduced spending from advertisers as a result of COVID-19, including as a result of the reduced number of sporting events, partially offset by higher prices for advertising units sold.
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Content Licensing and Other
Revenue is generated primarily from the licensing of our owned programming in the United States and internationally to cable and broadcast networks and to DTC streaming service providers, as well as from the sale of our owned programming on DVDs and through digital distribution services such as iTunes. In addition, our cable television studio production operations generate revenue from programming the studio produces for third-party networks and for DTC streaming service providers.
Revenue increased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to revenue from our digital properties, partially offset by the timing of content provided under our licensing agreements.
In 2020, 2019 and 2018, 15%, 15% and 14%, respectively, of our Cable Networks segment revenue was generated from our Cable Communications segment. These amounts are eliminated in Comcast’s consolidated financial statements but are included in the amounts presented above.
Cable Networks Segment – Operating Costs and Expenses
Programming and Production Costs
Costs include the amortization of owned and acquired programming, sports rights, direct production costs, residual and participation payments, production overhead, costs associated with the distribution of our programming to third-party networks and other distribution platforms, and on-air talent costs.
Costs decreased in 2020 primarily due to decreases in sports programming costs recognized resulting from the reduced number of events as a result of COVID-19.
Other Operating and Administrative Expenses
Other operating and administrative costs and expenses include salaries, employee benefits, rent and other overhead expenses.
Expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to lower employee-related costs as a result of cost savings initiatives.
Advertising, Marketing and Promotion Expenses
Expenses consist primarily of the costs associated with promoting programming on our cable networks and digital properties.
Expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to lower spending on marketing related to our cable networks.
Broadcast Television Segment Results of Operations
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue
Advertising$5,027 $5,712 $7,010 (12.0)%(18.5)%
Content licensing2,640 2,157 2,182 22.4 (1.1)
Distribution and other2,577 2,392 2,247 7.8 6.4 
Total revenue10,244 10,261 11,439 (0.2)(10.3)
Operating costs and expenses
Programming and production6,548 6,547 7,789  (15.9)
Other operating and administrative1,476 1,564 1,547 (5.6)1.1 
Advertising, marketing and promotion286 420 446 (31.9)(5.9)
Total operating costs and expenses8,310 8,531 9,782 (2.6)(12.8)
Adjusted EBITDA
$1,934 $1,730 $1,657 11.8 %4.4 %
Comcast 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K
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Broadcast Television Segment – Revenue
Advertising
Revenue is generated from the sale of advertising units sold on our broadcast networks, owned local broadcast television stations and digital properties. Advertising revenue is primarily based on the price we charge for each advertising unit, which is generally based on audience ratings and the value of our viewer demographics to advertisers, and the number of advertising units we can place in our broadcast networks’ and owned local television stations’ programming schedules. Advertising revenue is affected by the strength of the national and local advertising markets, general economic conditions, cyclicality related to political campaigns and issue-oriented advertising, and the success and ratings of our programming.
Revenue decreased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to continued declines in audience ratings and reduced spending from advertisers as a result of COVID-19, partially offset by higher prices for advertising units sold.
Content Licensing
Revenue is generated from the licensing of our owned programming in the United States and internationally to various distribution platforms, including to cable and broadcast networks, and to DTC streaming service providers. In addition, our broadcast television studio production operations develop and produce original content that they license to broadcast networks, cable networks and local broadcast television stations owned by us and third parties, as well as to DTC streaming service providers. The production and distribution costs related to our owned programming generally exceed the revenue generated from the initial network license, which means the subsequent licensing of our owned programming series following the initial network license is critical to their financial success.
Content licensing revenue increased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to the timing of content provided under our licensing agreement, including transactions with Peacock beginning in the second quarter of 2020.
Distribution and Other
We generate distribution and other revenue primarily from fees for retransmission consent of our owned local broadcast television stations and associated fees received from NBC-affiliated local broadcast television stations, as well as from the sale of our owned programming on DVDs and through digital distribution services. The sale of our owned programming is driven primarily by the popularity of our broadcast networks and programming series and therefore fluctuates based on consumer spending and acceptance. Distribution and other revenue also includes distribution revenue associated with our periodic broadcasts of the Olympic Games.
Revenue increased in 2020 compared to 2019 primarily due to increases in fees recognized under our retransmission consent agreements.
Broadcast Television Segment – Operating Costs and Expenses
Programming and Production Costs
Expenses relate to content that originates on our broadcast networks and owned local broadcast television stations, as well as owned content that is licensed to third parties. These costs include the amortization of owned and acquired programming costs, sports rights, direct production costs, residual and participation payments, production overhead, costs associated with the distribution of our programming to third-party networks and other distribution platforms, and on-air talent costs.
Expenses were flat in 2020 primarily due to lower production costs as a result of delays in production and airing of new programs and cost savings initiatives and the impact of the updated accounting guidance, which removed certain limitations on the amounts capitalized for episodic television series and had a favorable impact on programming and production expense in the current year (see Note 8), which were offset by higher amortization associated with content licensing sales.
Other Operating and Administrative Expenses
Other operating and administrative costs and expenses include salaries, employee benefits, rent and other overhead expenses. Expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to decreased overhead costs as part of cost savings initiatives and lower employee-related costs.
Advertising, Marketing and Promotion Expenses
Expenses consist primarily of the costs associated with promoting our owned and acquired television programming, as well as the marketing of DVDs and costs associated with our digital properties. These expenses decreased in 2020 primarily due to lower spending on marketing related to our programming.
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Filmed Entertainment Segment Results of Operations
Year ended December 31 (in millions)202020192018% Change
2019 to 2020
% Change
2018 to 2019
Revenue
Theatrical$421 $1,469 $2,111 (71.4)%(30.4)%
Content licensing3,342 3,045 2,899 9.7 5.1