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Universal Q4 Financials Undermined by Lower Home Entertainment, Theatrical Revenue

24 Feb, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Studio faced tough year-over-year comparisons with 'Despicable Me 2' and 'Fast & Furious 6,' both setting digital and disc sales records

Universal Pictures Feb. 24 reported a 60% drop in fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2014) operating cash flow to $77 million, from $192 million during the previous-year period. Revenue declined 10.6% to $1.3 billion, from $1.4 billion.

The quarter was impacted by tough year-over-year comparisons with Despicable Me 2, which set digital and disc sales records at the end of 2013. Indeed, the film sold 2 million DVDs, generating $35 million in first-week revenue following its Dec. 15, 2013, retail release. The title has sold more than $225 million of DVD and Blu-ray Disc units through Feb. 8, 2015, according to The-Numbers.com.

In addition, Comcast Cable’s Nov. 19, 2013, launch of Xfinity TV Store saw the service become the No. 1 digital seller of Despicable Me 2 for the week ended Dec. 3, in addition to being the top digital seller of The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) for the title’s first two weeks of retail release that year.

Xfinity TV Store now accounts for about 15% of all electronic-sellthrough transactions, according to IHS.

Full-year Universal results were impacted as well by Fast & Furious 6, which in addition to generating a strong box office in 2013 saw a spike in home entertainment revenue following the Thanksgiving weekend death that year of cast member Paul Walker.

Separately, Comcast Cable said it added 6,000 video subscribers in the quarter, to end the period with 22.3 million subs. It added 46,000 subs in the previous-year period.

Comcast said full-year video subscriber results were the best in seven years.

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