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Despite Viewer Decline, DirecTV HD Subs Up

It was good news and bad news and good news again for DirecTV in its latest quarterly earnings report. The DBS firm said its first-quarter net revenue nearly tripled—on the other hand, its overall American subscriber "growth" decreased for the third straight quarter (although its actual sub numbers did not).

But again on the good news side, DirecTV said (opens in new tab) its net revenue leap in January-March was largely due to a greater demand for higher-cost HD and DVR services, as well as overall sub growth in at least one region — its Latin American division.

In a conference call last week with Wall Street analysts, DirecTV execs noted about 60 percent of its overall subs now get HD and/or DVR services, which it claims is the highest HD penetration rate of other TV provider in America. (In the past, DirecTV had talked about soon offering its own proprietary TiVo-brand HD DVR, but now says that launch will be delayed until early 2011 at the earliest.)

The DBS company added about 100,000 net subscribers in the first quarter of 2010. Relatively speaking, that was less than a quarter of what it added in the same period a year ago (460,000). Its net sub growth has declined over previous year-to-year periods for the last few quarters.