PCCW profits up, pay TV posts loss

Now TV, 3G lose $65.5 million

HONG KONG — Billionaire Richard Li’s media company PCCW reported first-half profits up 3.3% to HK$822 million ($105 million) vs. to the same time last year.

Revenue from PCCW’s fixed-line business was up 4% to just under $1 billion. Its $306 million profit helped to offset the $65.5 million loss from broadband paybox Now TV and the 3G mobile phone businesses.

Those two segments should be profitable by the end of the year, said group managing director Alex Arena.

Now TV’s revenue was up 42% to $91.6 million, in part because the company shelled out $128.2 million for exclusive local rights to English Premier League soccer matches — a huge draw for subscribers — for three seasons starting this month.

Now TV’s subscriber base rose to 818,000 during the reporting period with 60,000 new subs. Paid subscribers make up 70% of the total base. As of June 30, I-Cable, the leading paybox in Hong Kong, had 830,000 subs.

While total mobile subscribers were up only 4% to 957,000, the number of 3G users doubled to 119,000 in the past six months.

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