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DBS Subscribers Top 10 Million Mark

The two remaining direct-broadcast-satellite system operators garnered 701,000 net new subscribers for the April-June period, up 48% from tallies in the same 1998 quarter, to push total small-dish digital satellite subscriber numbers over the 10 million mark for the first time.

During the period, DirecTv reported a record growth for the month of June with 117,000 net new subs, which lifted its second-quarter total to 369,000, up 33% over the year-ago period for the platform formerly known as DSS.

DirecTv also tallied 673,000 net new subscribers for the first half of 1999, which represents a 48% increase over the first half of 1998.

DirecTv currently reports 7.4 million total subscribers, including those added through the acquisition of Primestar. The satellite operator said the DirecTv service accounts for some 5.3 million subscribers, leaving 2.1 million still tethered to Primestar.

EchoStar, which registered 105,000 net new subscribers for the month of June, said it gained 332,000 net new subscribers in the quarter (up 84% over the 1998 period) and 657,000 for the half, up 92% from the first six months of 1998. However, The satellite service dropped behind DirecTv in new subscriber numbers for the quarter after topping its rival for the first time in the January-March period.

EchoStar continues to lead DirecTv in quarterly growth percentage (84% vs. 33%) and now reports 2.6 million total subscribers.

DirecTv said it has started to help subscribers to its Primestar By DirecTv service make the transition to the DirecTv system. DirecTv instructed dealers to cease taking new Primestar customers in June, while approximately 20,000 Primestar customers moved to the DirecTv platform during the first full month of the transition process. The company said that more than 200,000 more Primestar customers are scheduled to make the transition to the high-power platform. — Greg Tarr