DirecTV Adds 406K Subs, New Bird

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DirecTV Group Inc. said Tuesday that its direct-broadcast satellite service added a record 460,000 net subscribers in the first quarter.

The company’s net loss rose to $639 million, or 46 cents per share, from $50.9 million (4 cents) in the year-ago period.

DirecTV said results were affected a noncash charge of $479 million from the company’s pending sale of PanAmSat Corp. to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., as well as by $311 million of previously capitalized deferred subscriber-acquisition costs due to an accounting change in 2004.

Average revenue per subscriber rose 8% to $63.60, while the DBS provider’s churn rate fell to 1.4%, its lowest in four years.

DirecTV also announced the successful launch of its “DIRECTV 7S” high-power spot-beam DBS bird, built by Space Systems/Loral.

The satellite was sent into space at 8:42 a.m. Tuesday on a Sea Launch “Zenit-3SL” rocket from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned on the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

DirecTV said the new satellite’s highly focused spot-beam technology will enable it to deliver local channels to 41 additional markets, expanding its local-channel coverage to a total of 106 markets.