Sogecable sees record Q3 revenue

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MADRID -- Cost-cutting measures at Spanish pay TV operator Sogecable buoyed the company to its best third-quarter results ever, with €50.3 million ($71.4 million) in profit in the first nine months, the company said this week.

Sogecable posted a net loss of €25.9 million in the same period last year.

Revenue climbed to $1.9 billion through September, hitting an all-time record for the company, which owns free-to-air TV broadcaster Cuatro and satellite platform Digital Plus.

Beating market expectations, the company improved its EBITDA by 62% to €247 million ($350.7 million).

In a statement, the company referred to the ongoing soccer rights war with rival Mediapro, which it said had "damaged" the revenue generated on Digital Plus. Even so, the company averaged €41.4 ($58.8) per subscriber in third-quarter 2007, compared with €41.3 from the same period last year. The pay platform boasts about 2 million subscribers, a 40,000 increase from last year.

Sogecable's shares soared last week after a court banned Mediapro from selling rights to matches in the 2007-08 season of Spain's professional soccer league.

The dispute has dragged on for months, leaving fans guessing until the last minute as to whether they should buy the pay-per-view match on Digital Plus or watch it for free on Mediapro's free-to-air broadcaster La Sexta.

Spanish football rights were responsible for the main rise in spending, while the principal difference against the previous year was the disappearance of costs related to the 2006 Soccer World Cup.

Sogecable, which is owned by the Prisa Group, Spain's largest media empire, said advertising revenue rose 34% in the third quarter to €51.5 million ($73.1 million) thanks to Cuatro's rising audience share. Cuatro showed a 39% rise in advertising revenue to €46.2 million ($65.6 million).

Sogecable is due to see the massive output deals signed at the height of a heated battle for content with rival platform Via Digital in 1997 come up for renewal. Via Digital has since merged with Sogecable, so renegotiating the deals should be a sweeter prospect for the company in the coming months.
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