El Segundo, Calif. — Strong subscriber growth and consolidation of the full economics of merged subscriber groups pushed up U.S. revenue at DirecTV by 31 percent to $2.96 billion in the fourth quarter from a year-ago $2.25 billion.
However, increased fourth-quarter subscriber acquisition costs related to the record fourth-quarter gross subscriber additions and set-top box and DVR distribution to new subscribers, pushed U.S. operating profit before depreciation and amortization down to $118 million from $166 million in the same three months last year. Much for the same reasons, the satellite TV services provider recorded a fourth-quarter U.S. operating loss of $65 million, compared with a year-ago operating profit of $10 million.
Consolidated DirecTV revenue increased 22 percent in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, to $3.4 billion from $2.8 billion.
DirecTV reported a consolidated operating loss of $437 million in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $177 million in the same period a year earlier. Net loss reached $283 million, down from a net loss of $310 million in the same three months last year.
Included in the fourth-quarter consolidated operating loss before depreciation and amortization of $156 million was a $217 million pre-tax charge. The company reported an operating profit before depreciation and amortization of $11 million in the fourth quarter of 2003.
DirecTV added 1.1 million gross subscribers in the fourth quarter, bringing the full-year total to 4.2 million. Net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter reached 440,000, driving full-year numbers to more than 1.7 million. Total number of subscribers as of the end of 2004 reached 13.9 million, up from 12.2 million year-on-year.
Average monthly revenue per U.S. subscriber increased to $71.92 in the fourth quarter, an increase of 17 cents over the $71.75 recorded in the same three months a year earlier. However, average monthly churn increased to 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 1.5 percent a year ago, while average subscriber acquisition costs in the three months climbed to $669 from $638 in the same period last year. Capital expenditures in the fourth quarter reached $162.9 million, down from a year-ago $213 million.
For the 12 months, U.S. revenue reached $9.8 billion, up from $7.7 billion, while consolidated revenue for the year hit $11.4 billion, compared with $9.4 billion in 2003. The U.S. segment reported an operating profit of $22 million for the 12 months, down from $159 million in 2003, while the consolidated operating loss for the 12 months hit $2.1 billion, considerably higher than the $138 million operating loss recorded the previous year. Consolidated net loss widened to $1.9 billion for the 12 months, up from a loss of $362 million year-on-year.
Average monthly revenue per U.S. subscriber rose to $66.95 for the 12 months, compared with a year-earlier $63.92. Average monthly churn over the full year hit 1.59 percent, up from 1.55 percent in 2003. Average subscriber acquisition costs for 2004 reached $643, compared with $593 in 2003.