Subscriber base, revenue up at Foxtel

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SYDNEY -- Fuelled by a grab bag of digital services and a lowering of its basic package price, Australian pay TV giant Foxtel on Friday said it grew its customer base to more than 1.33 million subscribers and recorded a pre-tax profit of AUS$25 million ($19 million) for the half year ending Dec. 31.

Total subscribers rose 10%, with the pay network counting 1.2 million direct connects and another 121,000 wholesale customers.

Foxtel's subscription revenue increased 15% to AUS$591million ($455 million) for the half year, while total revenue grew to AUS$687 million ($529 million), representing a 14% increase from the previous corresponding period. Its profit was an AUS$45 million ($34.5 million) turnaround form the same period last year.

Revenue growth came from new subscriptions, more subscribers taking additional tiers and an increase in the take up of Foxtel's personal digital recorder. Penetration of the cabler's IQ PDR is believed to stand at about 130,000.

The company also said that less than 5% of its subscriber base elected to take the basic-only Foxtel service, while penetration of its premium platinum package, remained at 42%.

Other highlights for the company include a reduction in churn to an annualized rate of below 12% -- a result it said is among the lowest of all pay TV providers globally.

Foxtel's result, combined with those of rural operator Austar (announced Thursday), gives the pay TV sector 1.93 million subscribers for a penetration of 25% of Australian TV homes.
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