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17 February 2011

Viasat prefers third party TV adds; Telus IPTV growing fast

The bulk of the Pay TV results for Europe have either already been released (we have covered BSkyB in the UK and Ziggo and KPN in the Netherlands) or they are coming out late next week with one exception, Viasat has issued its numbers with the Scandinavian DTH operation slightly up in subs.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: ‘MTG has delivered another year of record sales and profits. We generated 12% year on year sales growth at constant exchange rates in 2010 following advertising market growth, further advertising market share gains and net subscriber intake. Operating profits were up 27% for the year when excluding associated company income and the one-off items in 2009, with an increased operating margin of 15%. This demonstrates the significant operating leverage in the business, with our free-TV Scandinavia and Pay TV Nordic businesses reporting increased full year margins of 25% and 18%, respectively.’

The company reports a 12% revenue increase if you count at constant currency, but a 5% rise in the reported number to $2.01 billion (reported as 13.1 billion Swedish Krona). The company has around 1 million pay TV DTH customers direct but also has content sold in packages around the rest of the world, mostly in central and Eastern Europe and funnily enough, in the US, and it has 50 million homes receiving those channels, which it calls mini-pay channels.

The company reports 1.06 million DTH paid subscriptions, but only 663,000 contract directly with Viasat, others, around 394,000 come through third party networks, usually IPTV services around Scandinavia which are fed by Viasat.

The direct subscribers have gone up 60,000 since a year ago, but have fallen 3,000 since last quarter. The third party sales have risen 82,000 in the past year and 19,000 of those are in the last quarter. It looks like Viasat is perhaps comfortable going through partners more and more. A further 43,000 have a basic TV service which makes up the numbers.

Where Viasat is putting its efforts these days is selling value added services and has now put 210,000 subscribers on HD programming this quarter, compared to 106,000 a year ago and 229,000 last quarter. Multiroom subs have likewise shifted to 235,000 from 211,000 a year ago.

Meanwhile across the pond in Canada, Telus has also announced its year end numbers, adding a record 48,000 TV subscriptions in the fourth quarter, taking TV subs to 314,000, up 85% over last year. The company puts this down to its new branding campaign using the name Optik and it has expanded IPTV to communities across British Columbia, Alberta, and Eastern Quebec and now can reach 2.1 million households. Telus still has some DTH satellite subs but doesn’t break them out. A year ago it switched from using about the only Lucent installed IPTV system, to Microsoft Mediaroom.