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Analysis of Revenues

Difficulty: Advanced


Revenue Recognition Accounting Policy

Cable Communications Segment

Comcast's Cable Communications segment generates revenue primarily from residential and business customers that subscribe to the video, high-speed Internet, voice, and security and automation services ("cable services"), and from the sale of advertising. Comcast recognizes revenue from cable services as each service is provided. Customers are typically billed in advance on a monthly basis based on the services and features they receive and the type of equipment they use. Since installation revenue obtained from the connection of customers to the cable systems is less than the related direct selling costs, Comcast recognizes revenue as connections are completed. Comcast manages credit risk by screening applicants through the use of internal customer information, identification verification tools and credit bureau data. If a customer's account is delinquent, various measures are used to collect outstanding amounts, including termination of the customer's cable services.

As part of the distribution agreements with cable networks, Comcast generally receives an allocation of scheduled advertising time on cable networks that Comcast sells through the advertising business to local, regional and national advertisers. Comcast recognizes advertising revenue when the advertising is aired or viewed. In most cases, the available advertising units are sold by Comcast's sales force. In some cases, Comcast works with representation firms as an extension of the sales force to sell a portion of the advertising units allocated to Comcast. Comcast also represents the advertising sales efforts of other multichannel video providers in some markets. Since Comcast is acting as the principal in these arrangements, Comcast records the advertising that is sold in revenue and the fees paid to representation firms and multichannel video providers in other operating and administrative expenses.

Under the terms of the cable franchise agreements, Comcast is generally required to pay to the cable franchising authority an amount based on the gross video revenue. Comcast passes these fees through to the cable services customers and classifies the fees as a component of revenue with the corresponding costs included in other operating and administrative expenses.

Cable Networks and Broadcast Television Segments

Comcast's Cable Networks segment generates revenue primarily from the distribution of the cable network programming to traditional and virtual multichannel video providers; from the sale of advertising on the cable networks and digital properties; from the licensing of the owned programming, including programming from the cable television studio production operations, to cable and broadcast networks and subscription video on demand services; and from the sale of the owned programming on standard-definition digital video discs and Blu-ray discs (together, "DVDs") and through digital distribution services such as iTunes. Comcast's Broadcast Television segment generates revenue primarily from the sale of advertising on the broadcast networks, owned local broadcast television stations and digital properties; from the licensing of the owned programming by the broadcast television studio production operations to various distribution platforms, including to cable and broadcast networks as well as to subscription video on demand services; from the fees received under retransmission consent agreements and associated fees received from NBC-affiliated local broadcast television stations; and from the sale of the owned programming on DVDs and through digital distribution services.

Comcast recognizes revenue from distributors as programming is provided, generally under multiyear distribution agreements. From time to time, the distribution agreements expire while programming continues to be provided to the distributor based on interim arrangements while the parties negotiate new contract terms. Revenue recognition is generally limited to current payments being made by the distributor, typically under the prior contract terms, until a new contract is negotiated, sometimes with effective dates that affect prior periods. Differences between actual amounts determined upon resolution of negotiations and amounts recorded during these interim arrangements are recorded in the period of resolution. Advertising revenue for Comcast's Cable Networks and Broadcast Television segments is recognized in the period in which the advertising is aired or viewed. In some instances, Comcast guarantees audience ratings for the advertising. To the extent there is a shortfall in the ratings that were guaranteed, a portion of the revenue is deferred until the shortfall is settled, primarily by providing additional advertising units. Comcast recognizes revenue from the licensing of the owned programming, including programming produced by the studios for third parties, when the content is made available for use by the licensee and when certain other conditions are met. When license fees include advertising time, Comcast recognizes the component of revenue associated with the advertisements when they are aired or viewed.

Filmed Entertainment Segment

Comcast's Filmed Entertainment segment generates revenue primarily from the worldwide distribution of the produced and acquired films for exhibition in movie theaters, from the licensing of produced and acquired films through various distribution platforms, and from the sale of produced and acquired films on DVDs and through digital distribution services. Comcast's Filmed Entertainment segment also generates revenue from Fandango, the movie ticketing and entertainment business, the sale of consumer products, the production and licensing of live stage plays, and the distribution of filmed entertainment produced by third parties. Comcast recognizes revenue from the distribution of films to movie theaters when the films are exhibited. Comcast recognizes revenue from the licensing of a film when the film is made available for use by the licensee, and when certain other conditions are met. Comcast recognizes revenue from the sale of DVDs, net of estimated returns and customer incentives, on the date that the DVDs are delivered to and made available for sale by retailers.

Theme Parks Segment

Comcast's Theme Parks segment generates revenue primarily from ticket sales and guest spending at the Universal theme parks. Comcast recognizes revenue from advance theme park ticket sales when the tickets are used. For annual passes, Comcast recognizes revenue on a straight-line basis over the period following the activation date.

Source: Comcast Corp., Annual Report


Revenues as Reported

Comcast Corp., Income Statement, Revenues

USD $ in millions

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12 months ended Dec 31, 2017 Dec 31, 2016 Dec 31, 2015 Dec 31, 2014 Dec 31, 2013
Cable Communications hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Cable Networks hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Broadcast Television hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Filmed Entertainment hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Theme Parks hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Headquarters and Other hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Eliminations hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
NBCUniversal hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Corporate and Other hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Eliminations hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden
Revenue hidden hidden hidden hidden hidden

Source: Comcast Corp. Annual Reports

Item Description The company
Revenue Aggregate revenue recognized during the period (derived from goods sold, services rendered, insurance premiums, or other activities that constitute an entity's earning process). For financial services companies, also includes investment and interest income, and sales and trading gains. Comcast Corp.'s revenue increased from 2015 to 2016 and from 2016 to 2017.