Premiere manages profit despite big soccer costs

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German pay TV group Premiere beat the street in the third quarter, managing a slim net profit despite a pricey deal to buy back rights to premier soccer division the Bundesliga.

Premiere booked €100,000 ($145,000) in profit in the quarter compared with €5.4 million a year earlier, but most analysts had predicted a loss of between €6 million-€7 million ($8.7 million-$10.2 million) as a result of the Bundesliga deal.

Getting soccer back paid off handsomely for Premiere, which added about 800,000 new subscribers to bring its total base to 4.2 million, a 24% jump.

The bulk of these (3.5 million) receive Premiere directly via a set-top box, while the remainder subscribe via third-person cable or satellite operators.

Revenue at Premiere was up as a consequence, increasing 8.2% to €247.5 million ($360 million).

But the Bundesliga deal, which Premiere signed this year with Unity Media subsidiary Arena, cut into profits. At a cost of €220 million ($320 million) per season, the rights largely were responsible for a year-over-year drop in operating profits before interest and taxes by about one-third, to €22 million ($32 million).

Although this was considerably better than had been predicted by most observers, Premiere shares took a hit Tuesday, falling 4% to €13.41 ($19.50) in early trading.
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