You probably know Comcast as a cable and internet provider but the company has been looking into another revenue stream and it turns out, its latest project is one of its fastest growing sectors.
What is this new business? Theme parks.
Yes: theme parks.
Comcast took over NBCUniversal’s film and television studios in 2011, which gave them access to not only NBCUniversal studios, cable and broadcast networks, and TV stations, but also the company’s theme parks. And these theme parks are where the company has, apparently, seen the most growth. At the time, of course, theme parks was a much smaller sector of the company’s focus but, as it turns out, the room for growth was actually a positive trait.
For example, cable subscriptions have been falling for the last decade until measurable growth showed up last year. With TV advertising facing a very strong—and very imminent—threat from digital platforms like Facebook and Google (who can target ads to user behavior) there just simply is not the kind of money in television that their used to be. The same holds true for the traditionally cyclic and low-margin film industry.
But Comcast is actually pretty bullish on the theme park idea. CEO Brian Roberts commented at a recent investors conference that NBCUniversal will increase capital expenditures by at least 10 percent this year (to roughly $1.6 billion), and most of that will be on theme park expansion.
Keep in mind that Universal Studios in Orlando opened the Harry Potter attraction in 2010. This was before Comcast took over. At the time, of course, Disney dominated in the theme park business but the Harry Potter attraction immediately resonated with fans and has become a major success. Since buying the company, then, Comcast has invested heavily in refurbishing and expanding its theme park empire by adding rides and other attractions in both the California and Florida locations and also by adding another park in Asia. This includes, of course, expanding the Harry Potter area in Florida and opening the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in California, roughly one year ago.
Between 2011 and 2016, Universal Studios theme park attendance grew approximately 150 percent.