Sky First-Quarter Sales Rise on Pay-TV, Streaming Services

  • Rupert Murdoch's European pay-TV company says sales rise 6%
  • Sky Adds 21,140 new retail customers for total of 25.3 million

Sky Plc, Rupert Murdoch’s European pay-TV company, posted a 6 percent increase in first-quarter sales at constant exchange rates as more people subscribed to its Web streaming service to watch shows such as “True Blood” and “Game of Thrones.”

Sales rose to 2.79 billion pounds ($4.3 billion) from 2.74 billion pounds. Sky added 21,140 retail customers in the quarter, bringing the total to 25.3 million, the company said in a statement.

The stock rose as much as 2.5 percent in London and advanced 1.7 percent to 1,087 pence at 8:21 a.m., giving the company a market value of 18.7 billion pounds.

Sky, which is about 39 percent owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc., said it added customers to pay-TV and Web-based TV services and the number of customers leaving Sky services was at 9.8 percent, the lowest first-quarter level for 11 years. BT Group Plc, the U.K.’s former phone monopoly, has been advancing into Sky’s core sports market, outbidding it for rights to some of the biggest soccer matches.

Average revenue per user, a measure of customers’ monthly bills, was flat in the U.K. and Ireland at 47 pounds from the previous quarter. It remained the same in Germany and Austria as well a 34 euros and fell slightly to 42 euros from 43 euros in Italy. Sky said.

Sky and BT have also been battling each other before the U.K. telecommunications watchdog Ofcom in recent months, as the regulator carries out a review of the digital communications market. Ofcom said in July it was seeking opinions on a breakup of BT by separating its Openreach division, which runs its network. 

Sky has accused BT of not investing enough in broadband and has been lobbying for the breakup. BT in return has asked Ofcom to probe Sky’s dominance in pay-TV in the U.K.

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