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NFL Sunday Ticket is big draw for DirecTV in Q3

Thu, 11/03/2011 - 3:12pm
The Associated Press

DirecTV Group, the country's largest satellite TV broadcaster, raked in more subscribers than ever in the third quarter, helped by the NFL Sunday Ticket.

DirecTV added a net 327,000 U.S. subscribers in the July to September period, the best third-quarter result in at least five years. Including Latin American operations, net gains were 901,000, the best for any quarter.

The new subscribers drove revenue up 14 percent from a year ago to $6.84 billion.

But NFL programming is expensive, and net income was $516 million, or 70 cents per share, up only 7.7 percent from last year's $479 million, or 55 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 73 cents per share on revenue of $6.74 billion.

DirecTV shares rose $1.29, or 2.9 percent, to $46.15 in morning trading.

The NFL Sunday Ticket gives access to every out-of-market Sunday NFL game, with bells and whistles like the ability to show eight live games simultaneously, side-by-side. DirecTV charges $53 per month for it.

Average revenue per U.S. user was $92.21 per month, a modest increase of 3.6 percent from a year ago. Latin American subscribers paid an average of $64.63, a figure that was up 7.7 percent from a year ago, after adjusting for currency fluctuations.

The flood of new subscribers comes after a dismal second quarter, which saw DirecTV gain just 26,000 U.S. subscribers, a record low. Rival Dish Network lost more subscribers than that, which meant the U.S. satellite industry posted a net subscriber loss for the first time ever.

DirecTV ended the quarter with 19.8 million U.S. subscribers, making it the second-largest provider of pay-TV service after cable company Comcast. In Latin America, it had 7.3 million subscribers.

Dish reports third-quarter results on Monday.

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