Canada's BCE Beats Quarterly Earnings Expectations

HBO's 'The Sopranos'

The profit jump comes as the phone giant, backed by an HBO library deal, launches an SVOD

Canadian mobile phone and TV giant BCE, buying up HBO content for a new Canadian streaming video on demand service to challenge Netflix, reported sharply higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Montreal-based BCE beat analyst estimates as it posted earnings for the three months to Sept. 30 at CAN$600 million (US$526 million), up 75 percent from CAN$343 million (US$301 million) in 2013, on overall revenue up 1.9 percent to CAN$5.2 billion (US$4.55 billion).

The earnings jump follows the phone giant, backed by a licensing deal with HBO, unveiling an upcoming Canadian video streaming portal, code-named Project Latte, to compete against Netflix Canada and local rival Shomi. As rival carriers lose cable customers to Netflix, BCE revenues were helped during the latest quarter as it secured 74,450 new IPTV subscribers and another 64,254 Internet subscribers.

Those gains were offset at the Bell Media broadcast division by falling TV ad revenue and sharply higher TV content costs for its expanding stable of cable sport channels. Bell Media spent heavily on sports broadcast rights to feed five national TV feeds for its TSN cable channel franchise.

That TSN pipeline also has access to around 1,000 hours of programming annually from ESPN in the U.S. The division during the latest quarter also unveiled a joint venture with reality TV giant Mark Burnett, producer of Survivor and The Voice, and MGM to co-develop new TV formats for Canadian and international audiences.