DirectTV grew healthy U.S. revenues -- but with a smaller number of new subscribers -- during the fourth quarter of 2011.
U.S. revenue climbed 9% to $6.03 billion, with net consumer additions of 125,000. This was against a net gain of 289,000 for the fourth quarter of 2010. For the year, DirecTV ended with a 3% gain to 19.89 million U.S. subscribers.
The company's average monthly revenue per subscriber increased to $101.38 from $96.64 in the fourth quarter of 2010. Much of this was due to higher NFL Sunday Ticket sales, as well as price increases on programming packages and leased set-top boxes, and sales of premium channels and advanced services.
DirecTV made gains in Latin America and Mexico. Latin America grew 2 million in new subscribers for the year to 7.8 million. Sky Mexico had an annual net gain of 3.7 million. U.S. and Latin America customers now total 32 million.
DirecTV's overall revenues for the fourth quarter of 2011 were up 13% to $7.46 billion, with net income climbing 16% to $718 million.
Programming costs continue to rise at DirecTV, particularly for its pricey NFL Sunday Ticket package, which gives consumers access to all Sunday games.
Overall programming costs rose to $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 from $2.9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010. For the entire year 2011, programming costs were at $11.7 billion from $10.0 billion.
DirecTV now pays the NFL over $900 million a year for the Sunday Ticket package. This is part of a $4 billion five-year deal that it signed in 2009.