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DirecTV Q4 Subscriber Growth Cools

16 Feb, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

DirecTV Feb. 16 said it added 125,000 subscribers in the United States during the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31) — down more than 56% from net subscriber additions of 289,000 during the previous-year period. For the year, subscriber growth reached 662,000 — about the same as the 663,000 subs added in 2010.

The El Segundo, Calif.-based satellite TV operator cited an 8% decline in gross sub additions for the lower domestic sub growth. Regardless, average monthly revenue per subscriber (ARPU) increased nearly 5% to $101.38, compared with $96.64 last year. DirecTV attributed the increase to higher costs of programming packages and leased set-top boxes, higher advanced services fees, higher premium channel (HBO, Showtime) buy rates and an increase in NFL Sunday Ticket revenues, partially offset by more promotional offers to new and existing customers.

DirecTV has staked a position as the No. 1 satellite TV operator due in part to NFL Sunday Ticket — a reality that underscores the enormity of lower sub growth considering that the football season is largely played during the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, DirecTV added 590,000 subscribers in Latin America, up 56% from 378,000 subs added during the same period last year. ARPU remained relatively flat at $60.41. The company has 7.8 million subscribers in Latin America — a 34.4% increase from 5.8 million during the previous-year period.

Overall, DirecTV reported Q4 net income of $535 million (up 10.5%) on revenue of $6 billion, up 9% from revenue of $5.5 billion last year. For year, revenue exceeded $21.8 billion, compared with $20.2 billion in 2010.

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