Premiere posts profits

Customer base grows by 1.5%

Pay-TV platform Premiere posted a first-quarter net profit of Euros 4.5 million ($6.1 million) on Thursday despite an 18% drop in revenue to $303.3 million.

Net profit was up considerably from last year’s loss of $24.7 million and company said it managed to stem the expected decline in revenue caused by its loss of lucrative top league Bundesliga soccer last year by lowering operating expenses 29% to $252.3 million.

Premiere also saw its customer base grow by 1.5% to 3.46 million compared with the fourth quarter of 2006.

The paybox has beefed up its scripted programming this year after inking a new film rights deal with Constantin Film and securing international series such as “Over There” and the third season of “Lost.”

In addition, company is set to increase overall marketing with the launch of its new satellite platform Premiere Sky later this year. The satellite-only pay-TV offering will initially include some 20 pay-TV channels. Premiere estimates that it will sign up around one million Premiere Sky customers by 2010.

While Premiere topper Georg Kofler said Premiere’s “decisive advantage” remained its broad customer base, company still faces a legal entanglement with federal antitrust authorities.

The broadcaster suffered a recent setback after an ambitious marketing deal inked earlier this year with rival pay-TV sports channel Arena and its parent, Unity Media, was put on hold due to an ongoing federal cartel office review.

The watchdog expressed concern over the pact, which gave Premiere non-exclusive satellite marketing rights for Arena’s coverage of Bundesliga matches. In return, Arena received a 16.7% share in Premiere.

Premiere and Unity Media are hoping to dispel the watchdog’s reservations and are currently in negotiations, it said. Premiere, Unity Media and Arena plan to present a model acceptable to the Cartel Office by May 31.

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