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DirecTV Gains at Digital Cable’s Expense

DirecTV Inc. continued to post strong subscriber and financial gains during the third quarter, grabbing an increasing slice of customers from digital cable.

For the three months ended September, the direct-broadcast satellite service added 326,000 customers, far more than the 206,000 added during the same quarter last year. The cost of acquiring those subscribers rose as well, to $590 each from $560, entirely due to equipment subsidies.

DirecTV president Roxanne Austin said the company is gaining from increasing dissatisfaction with digital cable, which is supposed to keep customers away from DBS. "Today, 45% of our new customers come from digital cable," she said. Three months earlier, that was running at just 40%.

"We’ve got 326,000 net new additions in the third quarter," Austin said. When MSOs’ financial reports start coming out in the next few weeks, "let’s add cable up how cable did in the third quarter," she added.