NBCUniversal has reported a pronounced revenue decline for the period when it had originally expected to be broadcasting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
New figures published by Comcast, the media conglomerate which also owns Sky, put NBCUniversal revenue for the three months to the end of September at $6.72 billion (£5.1 billion/€5.6 billion), down almost 19 per cent from the year-ago figure.
Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation tumbled 38 per cent to $1.28 billion (£1 billion/€1.1 billion).
Within this, broadcast television actually fared reasonably well, with revenue ahead more than eight per cent and earnings up by approaching 30 per cent.
This was in spite of an 11.5 per cent dip in advertising revenue, attributed to "continued ratings declines, partially offset by higher pricing and local political ad sales".
The unit saw content licensing revenue jump by nearly two-thirds, reflecting in part transactions with Peacock, its new streaming service.
Almost 22 million people were said to have signed up for Peacock across the United States.
NBCUniversal holds the broadcast rights for the Games for the highly lucrative US market, having agreed back in June 2011 to pay $1.42 billion (£1.07 billion/€1.18 billion) for the 2020 edition, as part of a four-Games $4.38 billion (£3.3 billion/€3.6 billion) agreement for which the company beat off competition from ESPN and Fox Sports.
Tokyo 2020 was originally scheduled to start in July, but was postponed by almost exactly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympics are now set to begin on 23 July 2021.
The company later acquired US rights to the Games all the way through until 2032 via a $7.65 billion (£5.7 billion/€6.35 billion) deal that is one of the most important commercial agreements in the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s history.
US broadcasting rights to the Olympics have come in recent decades to account for a sizeable proportion of the IOC’s quadrennial revenues.
The real drag on NBCUniversal‘s recent performance is its theme parks arm, from which revenue tumbled more than 80 per cent year-on-year to just $311 million (£236 million/€261 million).
The group said that Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Japan operated at "limited capacity" during the quarter, while Universal Studios Hollywood remained closed as a result of COVID-19.