Two takeaways from Comcast earnings call

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1. The company expects expenses at its cable operations unit to rise by a “low double-digit” percentage in 2013 after a 7% increase in 2012.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Angelakis pointed to “continued expansion of rights to multiple platforms, additional channel launches, continuing increase in sports costs, meaningful increases for retransmission consent fees and step-ups for recently completed long-term agreements.”

Meanwhile, marketing expenses have also gone up, as Comcast touts newer products such as its Xfinity Home security package and its various video offerings. The unit only lost 7,000 basic video customers in Q4, indicating that marketing has been persuasive.

2. Comcast sounds no less encouraged about NBC’s ratings than it did earlier in the 2012-13 season, when it was the only network that was seeing increased viewership.

Along with its cable channels, the company wants to get more money from cable operators for the right to retransmit the NBC network and its stations, despite NBC’s dive in the ratings since “Sunday Night Football” went off the air.

“I think our affiliate fees are not what they should be both in terms of the cable channels and retransmission consent [for NBC],” said Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal. “And on the advertising side our [ad rates] are lower than some of the other people in the business who have lower ratings than we do.”

— David B. Wilkerson