Englewood, Colo. -- PrimeStar Inc. said last week that it
added 40,707 net new subscribers in fiscal October, making last month the company's
strongest since its roll-up from a partnership into a single corporate entity this past
PrimeStar recently gave up its bid to merge with News
Corp.'s American Sky Broadcasting Inc., which would have allowed the company to move
to high-power direct-broadcast satellite services and to offer smaller dishes to its
customers. The company's owners must now decide how to proceed with its medium-power
satellite business and its 11 high-power transponders at 119 degrees west longitude.
PrimeStar's board met in New York last week, and some
analysts were expecting the company to make a statement about reaffirming its cable
partners' commitment to the medium-power business, rather than attempting to sell off
its assets. Since no statement emerged, there's speculation that the board is divided
on the matter.
The October acquisitions brought PrimeStar's
subscriber count to 2.207 million. PrimeStar still holds second place in the
country's satellite marketplace, trailing DirecTv Inc. and ahead of third-place
EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network.
But some Wall Street analysts believe that EchoStar could
overtake PrimeStar within months if EchoStar continues to add new subscribers at an
aggressive pace and PrimeStar can't overcome its problems with churn.
Neither EchoStar nor DirecTv had announced October
subscriber counts by press time.
PrimeStar plans to report its third-quarter financial
results in a conference call Thursday (Nov. 12).