NTL Q2 Earnings Down, Whupped by BSkyB in Subscriber Race

16 August 2002

Debt-beset US cable group NTL, whose operations are primarily UK-based, this week reported a fall in subscriber numbers, down in the quarter ended June 30 by 70,000 to below 2.7 million.

This compares with gains made by satellite rival BSkyB which notched 214,000 new households during the same period, hiking its total to 6.1m. It also suggests that Rupert Murdoch-controlled Sky whupped NTL in mopping-up the 1.2m ITV Digital subscribers suffering withdrawal symptoms after the platform’s collapse in May

NTL also announced its Q2 numbers, with underlying earnings down to £174 million ($266.52m; €272.74m) from the previous quarter’s £177m.

Chief executive Barclay Knapp was unfazed. “We have had a solid performance,” he opined. The subscriber losses were “expected” during the recent uncertainty surrounding the group’s debt-for-equity restructuring; and NTL is set to exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy “on time” on September 5.

Continued Knapp: “We're going to be very prudent about how we spend money and how we emerge from the process and how we restart growth.” But he refused to quantify future prospects, seeking refuge in vague generalities [and reiteration]: “The environment isn't getting any better, neither the environment for our kinds of companies nor the economic environment.”

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff