Sky sees strong customer growth

Sky sign, Isleworth Image copyright AFP

Media giant Sky says it gained more than 200,000 new customers in the UK and Ireland in the second half of 2014.

The addition of 204,000 customers was its highest growth in subscribers in nine years, it said.

These were Sky's first results since BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia combined in November last year.

The company reported a 16% rise in adjusted operating profits to £675m, which was better than analysts had expected.

Adjusted revenues - which assume Sky had owned Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia for the full six months to 31 December - rose 5% to £5.6bn.

The period saw strong demand for pay-TV across all its markets, Sky said, while it also saw a fall in the number of customers leaving.

"Alongside our continued strength in the UK and Ireland, the acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland gives us an expanded opportunity for growth," said chief executive Jeremy Darroch said.

"Both businesses had a strong quarter."

Sky gained 214,000 new customers in Germany and Austria, and 30,000 new customers in Italy.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said Sky had "produced an encouraging set of numbers as it positions itself as a major European force within the media sector".

"The net result is that the earnings per share, revenue and operating profit numbers are all comfortably ahead," he said.

Sky's move into mobile with Telefonica, which takes Sky into the battle for "quad play" services of mobile, internet, landline and TV, "should maintain its position as a force to be reckoned with", Mr Hunter said.

However, Sky faces risks in integrating its European acquisitions, and in getting the majority of rights in the auction for Premier League football TV rights, he added.

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