BSkyB is finding it hard to focus on business as its attempted takeover by News Corp is at the eye of a political storm. However, it is on much safer ground as far as its own numbers are concerned. Its latest 3-month figures are out Wednesday May 2nd, and it is inevitable that amongst the good news there will be comments and question from analysts as to BSkyB’s view on whether News Corp, and the Murdoch family generally, are “fit and proper” persons to be involved in the running of a UK-licensed broadcasting operation.
As to the numbers themselves, it is Sky’s 3rd Quarter (9-month) trading, the City expects pay-TV subscription growth to be modest for Q3 (only about 10,000 net growth) and which follows on from Q2’s pre-Christmas 40,000 net additions. But Sky’s broadband efforts are expected to be much more rewarding with growth of some 150,000 new subs, about the same as Q2. HDTV growth should also be up, helped by Sky’s Formula 1 launch, to an additional 140,000, again about the same as pre-Christmas.
Investment bankers Morgan Stanley, in its note to clients, suggests that there are plenty of positives for BSkyB, and the “fit and proper” debate will have been helped by James Murdoch stepping down from his chairmanship role.
On the revenue side, Morgan Stanley says that a price rise will probably be notified in July (Sky has committed to holding prices for two years, but that promise expires this year). The bank also predicts further delays for YouView, the BBC-backed on-demand service for UK viewers, and suggests that YouView will not launch in any meaningful manner this side of teh Olympic Games.