While subscriber numbers have increased, Austar’s chief executive John Porter says the consumer environment remains tough.

“As we indicated in our half-year results, the consumer market is tough – this is still the case,” Porter said today in a statement, which was released with the company’s unaudited results for the three months to September 30.

The regional provider increased its number of total subscribers in the quarter by 1328 (up to 765,578), but customer churn increased 10 basis points to reach 1.41 per cent.

Revenue remained flat at $180 million, while average revenue per unit levels were maintained over the quarter, growing by 1 per cent to $86.96.
The provider said currently 40 per cent of residential subscribers used the “MyStar” PVR.

“MyStar continues to be a strong differentiator for Austar in an increasingly-competitive environment…" Porter said.

He added the 2012 AFL offering, available after Foxtel invested $600 million for broadcasting rights for the next five years, would be unveiled over the coming months.

“We know live, uninterrupted coverage – along with a dedicated AFL channel – will be compelling for consumers in rural and regional Australia.” Key states will be Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.

The massive AFL investment, announced in late-April, was a major step for subscription TV in a fiercely competitive environment after the success of the digital free-to-air multi-channels.

Porter expects the $2.5 billion merger with Foxtel to go ahead in early-2012.

The Australian Competition Consumer Commission is still currently assessing the “competition implications” of the transaction and will release its decision by November 30.

The ACCC had previously raised concerns about the proposal, saying the merger between the subscription TV providers would give Telstra an unfair advantage in the telecommunications market while increasing the barrier to entry for prospective competitors.

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