Coming off a stronger-than-projected fourth quarter in 2001, DirecTV Inc.
predicted Tuesday that it would add 1 million net new subscribers in 2002.
The direct-broadcast satellite provider started this year with 10.7 million
'Nearly one in nine television households receives DirecTV programming,'
president Roxanne Austin said during an earnings call Tuesday for DirecTV parent
Hughes Electronics Corp.
DirecTV plans to add 200,000 to 250,000 net new subscribers in the first
quarter of this year, the company said in its guidance to analysts.
In the fourth quarter of 2001, DirecTV signed 910,000 gross new subscribers,
or 405,000 net new customers after churn.
By the end of the fourth quarter, the company's churn had dropped to 1.6
percent per month, Austin said, after it improved customer service, asked for
annual programming commitments from most new customers and added local channels
in 41 markets.
Unlike EchoStar Communications Corp., DirecTV has no immediate plans to raise
consumer prices, Austin said. She added that holding the line on prices should
also help to reduce churn.
Until the proposed merger between Hughes and EchoStar is approved, DirecTV
must maintain a competitive posture in the marketplace, Austin and DirecTV CEO
Eddy Hartenstein reiterated during the earnings call.
EchoStar has not yet released its year-end-2001 results.
Some analysts have estimated the company's fourth-quarter-2001 net customer
gains at some 400,000.
Together, DirecTV and EchoStar's Dish Network likely ended 2001 with more
than 17 million subscribers.