Premium TV Nets Add Subscribers, Momentum

As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings makes noise about his company mounting a challenge to HBO, the pay-TV network recovered momentum in the fourth quarter and added subscribers. SNL Kagan reports it added 190,000 net subscribers after two quarters of declines.

It was the largest net gain for an HBO quarter since 2006, Kagan says. Sister network Cinemax also gained with 25,000 customers, though a promotion from Dish Network may have helped. 

Some of that uptick could be due to operators offering the HBO Go mobile access option, which Hastings has praised. But with a combination of original series and its own access anywhere opportunities, Hastings has said Netflix can try to compete with HBO with its own premium content.

Besides HBO, other pay-TV networks also gained in the 2011 October-December period, giving the sector more momentum than the overall customer additions to cable, satellite and telco businesses.

The overall combined net adds for operators’ customers was up 300,000. Premium networks, however, saw a bump of 2.2 million net subscribers, led by Showtime (up 700,000) and Starz (up 595,000).

Kagan says about half of the additions came from satellite-TV subscribers, partly as Dish Network offered free promotions.

Epix, partly owned by Viacom, had a solid 2011 fourth quarter with a net gain of 230,000 subscribers, Kagan says.

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