UPDATE 2-DirecTV loses more U.S. subscribers than expected

Thu Aug 2, 2012 10:35am EDT

* Second-quarter revenue up 9 pct

* DirecTV lost more subscribers than Dish in quarter

* First ever quarterly loss of U.S. customers

By Liana B. Baker

Aug 2 (Reuters) - For the first time ever, DirecTV lost subscribers during the quarter in the United States as more customers than expected canceled their service with the top U.S. satellite provider.

For the three months ended June 30, DirecTV lost 52,000 subscribers. Analysts on average had forecast a loss of 36,000, according to StreetAccount data. It ended the quarter with 19.91 million subscribers in the U.S.

"The negative subs will likely be the story du jour," said ISI analyst Vijay Jayant in a research note. While DirecTV lost more subscribers than Jayant expected, he said the company, which is focused on its higher paying customers, would benefit from these "wise, economic consumer retention efforts" in the long term.

DirecTV said in a statement that some of the subscriber losses were caused by its stricter credit policies and its focus on higher paying customers. DirecTV also said it attracted fewer subscribers through its telecom sales channel in the quarter. It partners with Verizon in the U.S. to sell its TV services.

In Latin America, where the company sees much higher growth, it added 645,000 new subscribers, which beat analysts' estimates of 549,000 subscribers.

DirecTV's major U.S. rival, Dish, fared better with subscribers in the second quarter, and may be attracting some of DirecTV's customers.

Dish, the No. 2 satellite provider, said in July it lost 10,000 subscribers in the same period, a better-than-expected performance and a vast improvement from a year ago when it lost 135,0000 subscribers.

On Thursday, cable provider Time Warner cable said it lost 169,000 video subscribers in the quarter. Click here for more on Time Warner Cable:

DirecTV said its operating profit margins for the first half of the year were pressured by higher programming costs. The company was in the spotlight in July during a high profile dispute over programming costs between DirecTV and Viacom . DirecTV's customers were left without 26 of Viacom's networks, including MTV and Comedy Central for about 10 days until the two companies reached an agreement.

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