BSkyB profits from high definition services

Satellite TV group BSkyB has reported a sharp jump in annual profits, driven by new subscriptions, particularly for high definition (HD) services.

Pre-tax profit for the year to the end of June came in at £878m, up more than threefold on the £259m the broadcaster made in the previous 12 months.

Revenue also rose to £5.9bn, up more than 10% on the £5.4bn recorded a year earlier.

The company said it had doubled the number of HD customers over the year.

Between April and June, it added 429,000 HD customers, most of which were already Sky subscribers.

The group added 90,000 new customers over the quarter, to reach 9.86 million in total.

It also announced a multi-year deal with US network HBO, producer of hit shows such as Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Wire, to air exclusively some of its programmes.

On Wednesday, rival Virgin Media reported a 7% rise in revenue to £964m for the three months to 30 June. It attracted 9,100 new customers during the period.

It did not publish a pre-tax profit figure, but reported a net loss of £68.5m, compared with a net loss of £55m a year earlier.

'Tough environment'

"We've had another good quarter to bring our financial year to a strong close," said BSkyB's chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

"HD continues to go from strength to strength."

The company also said more customers were choosing a broader range of bundled services, with one in five now taking TV, broadband and telephone.

It said it had performed well in a "tough consumer environment" and would continue to stay focused despite the "uncertain economic outlook".

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is seeking to take full control of BSkyB, by acquiring the 61% of the shares it does not already own.

News Corporation's initial offer of 700 pence a share, which values BSkyB at around £12bn, was rejected. BSkyB said it wanted "in excess of 800p" per share.

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