Sogecable looks for growth

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Sogecable, operator of Spain's leading digital pay-TV platform Digital Plus, posted results fractionaly ahead of expectations for the first half of 2004 as it moved to place its merged pay-TV operation, which absorbed former rival Vía Digital a year ago, on a sound footing for growth.

First-half revenues of €721m yielded €172.1m EBITDA, on a 19.3% margin, with a first-half loss of €82.6m attributed mainly to extraordinary one-off merger costs, including write-offs against customer churn to Vía Digital and cancelled contracts with the latter's former suppliers.

Net subscriber loss for the second quarter of 2004 stood at 94,000, slightly below analyst expectations. A Spanish broker commented: "Average revenue per user, subscription and cost levels have taken analysts by surprise ... dealers were afraid subscriptions would fall more."

Sogecable also announced price-cuts on its digital packages. From August 1, it will offer a new premium package, Canal Plus Familiar, at €21.98 a month - only €5 more than the single analogue version of Sogecable's premium movie and sports channel, Canal Plus España.

It will offer three multiplexed versions of Canal Plus España plus two Disney channels, whereas Digital Plus subscribers are now paying €36.88 for the triplex version. The company also cut prices for first-run pay-per-view movies bought by Digital Plus subscribers.

Controlled by Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica and media group Prisa, Sogecable has seen its subscriber base shrink as the cost of many packages headed in the opposite direction.

Lovelacemedia  |  22.07.2004

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