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NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp reported slightly lower-than-expected quarterly revenue on Thursday, and the No. 1 U.S. cable operator said it lost video subscribers, sending its shares down nearly 4 percent.
Comcast's video business has been pressured as more consumers cancel their cable packages, sometimes in favor of cheaper streaming options from companies like Netflix Inc . AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc have also reported video subscriber losses.
Shares of Comcast fell 3.6 percent to $35.50 in premarket trading as investors shrugged off higher-than-expected earnings for the third quarter.
Net income attributable to Comcast rose 18.5 percent to $2.65 billion, or 55 cents a share.
Excluding special items, earnings per share came to 52 cents. Analysts on average had expected 50 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue fell 1.6 percent to $20.98 billion from the year-earlier period, when the company's NBC broadcast network benefited from the 2016 Olympics. Wall Street had forecast $21.04 billion.
Comcast lost 125,000 video subscribers in the quarter. The company had said in September that it might lose up to 150,000 due to recent hurricanes and increased competition in the pay-TV industry.
"In video, new entrants, changing consumer habits and aggressive video activity from incumbents continue to result in a competitive landscape," Chief Executive Officer Brian Roberts said on a conference call.
The company is exploring new ways to reach customers looking for cheaper options through its Xfinity Instant TV streaming service, he added.
Consumers now have more choices for streaming television over the internet at a cheaper price than paying for cable. Such alternatives include Dish Network Corp's Sling service, Sony Corp's PlayStation Vue and AT&T's DirecTV Now.
But Comcast has said it is well-positioned for changes in viewing habits because of its high-speed internet business, which added 214,000 subscribers in the quarter. The company has also expanded into home security and automation, which added 51,000 subscribers.
On the call, Roberts said Comcast's Xfinity Mobile service, which competes with wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon, had surpassed 250,000 customer lines since its introduction in May.
Revenue rose 5.1 percent in the cable business and 6 percent for NBCUniversal, excluding the year-earlier Olympics. (Reporting by Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Von Ahn)