Subscriber numbers hit 20-year high

Mirroring bullish figures at Vivendi and parent Canal Plus Groupe, French paybox Canal Plus is on a roll expanding its subscriber count, and healthily in the black, driving up 2007 net profits by 12% to E47 million ($71.3 million) off revenues of $2.6 billion, up 8% on 2006.

Premium soccer-and-movie service Canal Plus added 80,000 subs over 2007, raising the total number to 5.3 million.

Subs rose 715,000, a 20-year-record, at Canal Plus Le Bouquet, a six-channel premium package that includes Canal Plus, Canal Plus Cinema and Canal Plus Sport and offers exclusive, firstrun programs.

Overall subscriptions for Canal Plus, digital satellite service CanalSat and TPS increased 280,000 to 10.54 million. (Statistic counts a client who subscribes to both CanalSat and Canal Plus as two subscriptions.)

Revenue surge was driven by sub growth at satellite and broadband services and an increase in average money spent per subscriber, Canal Plus said in a statement.

“Normally, when you get a big quarterly in net or gross additions, whether mobile or pay TV, you normally find that for that quarter profitability suffers,” said Paul Reynolds at Deutsche Bank.

Canal Plus managed to boost profitability despite sustaining higher costs in distribution payments to third-party operators (up 111% to $208 million) over multiple platforms and higher programming costs (up 4% to $2.3 billion).

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