DirecTV Third-Quarter Profit Rises, Subscriber Growth Slows

Mike White - DirecTV CEO - 2010
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UPDATED: The satellite TV giant continued to grow its pay TV user base in Latin America as U.S. sub momentum slowed partly due to a carriage dispute with Viacom.

Satellite TV giant DirecTV on Tuesday reported higher third-quarter earnings as its U.S. pay TV subscriber growth momentum slowed.

"U.S. subs were a lower than expected due to a combination of slightly lower gross adds and higher churn - due in part to the Viacom dispute," Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe said.

The company, led by chairman and CEO Mike White, posted a profit of $565 million, up 9 percent from the year-ago period. Revenue rose 8 percent to $7.42 billion.

DirecTV signed up 67,000 new U.S. pay TV subscribers in the third quarter, ending September with a total subscriber base of 19.98 million. In the year-ago period, the company had signed up 327,000 new U.S. subscribers.

DirecTV said it had fewer gross subscriber additions in the latest quarter, and its subscriber turnover, measured by its churn rate, came in at 1.74 percent compared with 1.62 percent last year. Without naming Viacom, the company cited its big contract dispute with the entertainment company as a reason for the higher churn. Viacom networks were off DirecTV for nine days in the third quarter before the companies struck a new carriage deal. 

The DirecTV Latin America unit continued to grow its user base, adding 543,000 subscribers in the third quarter, down from 574,000 in the year-period.

Satellite TV competitor Dish Network earlier in the day reported that it swung to a third-quarter loss. It lost fewer subscribers than in the year-ago period.

Twitter: @georgszalai