DirecTV Reports Record Sub Growth


El Segundo, Calif. -- DirecTV Inc. signed a record 527,000 net new
subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2000, parent Hughes Electronics Corp. said
Tuesday. The company ended the year with 9.5 million direct-broadcast satellite

Bad winter weather kept DirecTV installers from adding about 110,000 new
customers -- mostly from Blockbuster Inc. -- to the subscriber roster, Hughes
executives said in an analyst call. About 110,000 customers bought new DirecTV
systems and scheduled installations. Those numbers will likely be added to the
first-quarter-2001 figures.

Customer churn for the quarter averaged about 1.5 percent per month. Average
revenues per subscriber increased $1 to $60.

'Our best customers come from the urban areas,' DirecTV global chairman Eddy
Hartenstein said. That's where DirecTV gains its highest revenues per customer,
he added. And despite the greater likelihood of a digital-cable competitor, he
said, urban DMAs show no uptick in customer churn for the DBS company.

Hughes chief financial officer Roxanne Austin declined to comment on
published reports that News Corp. was close to making a deal to buy DirecTV
except to say that Hughes continues to have discussions with 'multiple

DirecTV rival EchoStar Communications Corp. has not yet reported
fourth-quarter numbers for its Dish Network service.

Share prices of Hughes stock rose more than 11 percent Tuesday, while
EchoStar stock prices increased more than 9 percent.