Satellite

DirecTV Sets Rate Hikes

1/21/2005 4:46 AM Eastern

DirecTV Inc. plans to hike monthly fees for its programming packages by about 4% March 1.

The direct-broadcast satellite provider’s “Total Choice” package will increase 5% to $41.99; “Total Choice Plus,” its most popular package, jumps 7% to $45.99; and “Total Choice Premiere,” which includes premium-movie channels, will rise 3.3% to $93.99.

“DirecTV has indicated that these rate increases will translate to 4% average increases overall when taking into consideration their $63 ARPU [average monthly revenue per subscriber]. But this significantly understates the magnitude of the increase, since their reported ARPU includes packages such as the NFL Sunday Ticket that are priced separately and will almost certainly see significant increases on their own, and other services such as pay-per-view,” Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffet wrote in a research note.

DirecTV spokesman Bob Marsocci said the top DBS provider decided to adjust the rates for its programming packages “primarily to offset higher programming costs.”

News of DirecTV’s rate hike comes about two weeks after rival EchoStar Communications Corp. said it would raise the rates on its Dish Network programming packages Feb. 1.

EchoStar’s “America’s Top 60” package will rise 6.7% to $31.99 monthly; “America’s Top 120” will increase 7.5% to $42.99; “America’s Top 180” jumps $3 to $52.99; and “America’s Everything Pak” will rise $4 to $86.99 monthly.

March