Pay-TV giant Sky says interim profits more than double
European pay-TV broadcaster Sky posted soaring first-half profits on Wednesday, buoyed by keen demand in Austria, Britain and Germany, in the first results to include Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland.
Net profits, or earnings after taxation, more than doubled to £1.09 billion ($1.65 billion, 1.44 billion euros) in the six months to December 31, compared with £411 million a year earlier, Sky said in a results statement.
Revenues rallied 17 percent to £4.302 billion in the reporting period, and grew 5.0 percent on an adjusted basis.
Adjusted operating profit meanwhile grew 16 percent to £675 million.
Total customer numbers swelled by 493,000 in the second quarter to reach more than 24.8 million subscribers, lifted by record growth in Austria and Germany.
"We have delivered an excellent operational and financial performance in our first set of results as the new Sky," said chief executive Jeremy Darroch, adding that it had enjoyed "strong customer demand in all five of our markets".
Back in November, Sky changed its name from BSkyB after completing the purchase of Sky Italia and a majority holding in Sky Deutschland, creating a pan-European pay-TV titan.
Sky is 39 percent owned by Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox. The group's five markets comprise Austria, Britain, Germany, Ireland and Italy.
"Alongside our continued strength in the UK and Ireland, the acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland gives us an expanded opportunity for growth," added Darroch.
"Both businesses had a strong quarter, Germany posting its highest ever customer growth and Italy showing resilience with good customer growth in a challenging economic environment.
"Integration is progressing well and we are excited about the potential for the three businesses to be even stronger together."
Sky broadcasts the 24-hour Sky News channel, English Premier League football and blockbuster movies and also provides Internet and telephone services.
The results were published one week after Sky revealed plans to launch mobile phone services next year in a tie-up with Spain's Telefonica.
Under the multi-year agreement, Telefonica UK will give the group wholesale access to 2G, 3G and 4G services over its popular nationwide phone network, Sky said, but disclosed no financial terms.
The announcement followed recent news that Telefonica was in talks to sell its British mobile phone unit O2 to Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa for £9.25 billion.
Sky has been in talks for some time to use the network to operate a mobile service, and it is understood that its plans will be unaffected by the Hutchison deal.
© 2015 AFP