“It’s true, there has been an impact from consumer caution, which has been reflected in the growth rate,” Foxtel’s chief executive, Kim Williams, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Certainly there has been some subduing impact over the course of the last few months, but I think we’re through the worst of that … we’re fairly cautiously optimistic about our ability to continue to grow.”
Williams has plans to double Foxtel’s number of high-definition channels over the next 18 months, introduce a broadband download product early next year and launch an expanded version of its standard iQ in October.
Meanwhile, the high-definition recorder, iQ2, has sold to 40,000 subscribers since its introduction in June.
The number of subscribers to its pay television services had risen 6.7 per cent, to 1.54 million, in the year to June – well down from the double-digit growth rates reached in previous years and its 12.7 per cent increase in the first half. Its churn rate came in at 13.4 per cent for the year, from below 12 per cent in 2006-07.
Operating earnings rose to $351 million, from $237 million last year, and pretax profit more than doubled to $157 million, allowing it to pay healthy distributions to its three shareholders – Telstra, News Ltd and Consolidated Media Holdings.