Strong 09 for Sky

BSkyB has added a better-than-forecast 124,000 subscribers in the past three months, hitting a total of 9.4 million, boosted by price cuts and promotion for its high-definition TV service, with new customers joining at the fastest rate for five years.

Announcing a four per cent rise in annual profits for the 12 months to the end of June, chief executive Jeremy Darroch denied that BSkyB is “recession proof”, warning that “looking ahead, we expect the overall consumer environment to be challenging”. But he added: “We think we are well placed to build a bigger and more profitable business in the long term.” The high-definition service also helped Sky increase ARPU at a new high of £464, (E542) up £37 on last year.

For the year as a whole, Sky announced pre-tax profits of £456 million, up from £60 million last year. But the results were distorted by exceptional charges, especially related to the collapse in the value of Sky’s controversial stake in ITV. This year’s figures include a further £191 million writedown in the 17.9 per cent stake as a result of ITV’s plunging share price, while last year’s results were hit by a £616 million charge. With these writedowns stripped out, operating profits were £780 million, up 4 per cent on last year’s £752 million. Revenues were £5.3 billion, up from £4.95 billion last year.

Sky has been trying to persuade its existing customers to expand the number of its products they take to include home telephony and broadband. So far 16 per cent of Sky’s 9.4 million homes take all three services. In the three months to the end of June, Sky added 118,000 broadband customers.

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