Entertainment co. posts 32% increase

Liberty Entertainment, the corner of John Malone’s empire that includes Starz and a 49% stake in DirecTV, posted a 32% increase in revenue and a 13% rise in adjusted operating income in the second quarter.

The company credited growth at Starz and the addition of three regional sports networks that reach 8.5 million homes. The nets went to Malone as part of an asset swap with News Corp. that gave the mogul a controlling stake in DirecTV.

In the quarter, Starz Entertainment revenue gained 8% to $275 million and the adjusted operating net increased 24% to $68 million. The upswing stemmed from higher effective rates for services and increases in the weighted average number of subscription units.

Starz and Encore, the two principal service offerings of Starz Entertainment, experienced average subscription unit increases of 6% and 11%, respectively, during the quarter.

The Starz flagship channel finished first in total day ratings among premium channels in 10 of the first 26 weeks of the year, Starz chairman and chief exec Robert Clasen noted.

During a conference call with analysts, Malone said Liberty would want to explore buying AOL’s dial-up business. Time Warner topper Jeff Bewkes reaffirmed last week that the groundwork had been laid for a transaction involving either or both of AOL’s parts, the access business and the ad-supported business.

Shares in Liberty Entertainment, launched in March as one of three tracking stocks related to Malone’s Liberty Media, added 1.6% on the day to close at $26.27.

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