Sky profits climb by 10%

Sky profits climb by 10%

Hit shows like Game of Thrones and Riviera have helped Sky deliver a 10% rise in first-half earnings, underscoring the appeal of the European pay-TV group to the US media companies trying to buy it, writes Paul Sandle.

The results come two days after the UK’s competition regulatory ruled that Fox’s bid to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own was not in the public interest.

Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty First Century Fox was provisionally blocked from buying the shares in Sky it does not already own, although there are options that would allow the $15.7bn (€12.7bn) deal to go through.

Sky, whose customer base rose by 365,000 in the half to 22.9m, could then be sold to Disney if a separate sale of Murdoch’s TV and film assets receives the green light.

The British broadcaster reported revenue of £6.7bn (€7.66bn) for the six months to the end of December, up 5%, while core earnings rose to £1.1bn.

“This performance reflects the investment choices we have made in recent years, allowing us to more than offset the pressure on consumer spending across Europe, as more customers continue to choose Sky for more of their services,” chief executive Jeremy Darroch said.

Shares in Sky, which are trading at the highest levels since Fox announced its £10.75-a-share bid in December 2016, were up around 1% at one stage in the latest session in London.

The satellite-company, which operates in Italy, Germany and Austria as well as the UK and Ireland, said it would pay an interim dividend of 13.06p a share, on top of a special dividend of 10p, which UBS analysts said was a positive surprise.

Darroch said that the company’s investment in original programming, such as dramas Riviera and Tin Star, drove viewing figures for Sky’s channels up 6%.

“We have an exceptional line-up of acquired series, and when you add to that our own Sky Originals, it puts us in what I think is the strongest content position we’ve ever had,” he told reporters.

Murdoch, who also owns a string of newspapers in the UK, now has to come up with an arrangement that will prevent him from influencing the news agenda at Sky, for instance by spinning off its Sky News channel.

Darroch said that Sky, along with Fox, was focused on this media ownership hurdle after the competition regulator dismissed concerns about Murdoch’s commitment to broadcasting standards.

- Reuters

More in this Section

Stop right now: Tesco removes Mel B advert in UK following Spice Girl’s complaintStop right now: Tesco removes Mel B advert in UK following Spice Girl’s complaint

Uber CEO expresses regret over comments about journalist’s murderUber CEO expresses regret over comments about journalist’s murder

UK economy ‘spluttering’ despite return to growth, say analystsUK economy ‘spluttering’ despite return to growth, say analysts

Brexit blamed as optimism among Irish businesses falls to nine-year lowBrexit blamed as optimism among Irish businesses falls to nine-year low


Helen O’Callaghan on the dangers of products high in caffeine.The dangers of energy drinks full of sugar

When bride-to-be Alma Clohessy enlisted her mother Rita’s help in planning her wedding, they made the most of every precious moment together.Wedding of the Week: 'It was the best, yet most emotional day of my life'

As you may be aware, new rules around motor insurance documentation have been introduced. The rules are aimed at improving transparency for consumers but a broker is warning they may have unintended consequences and could cause some confusion among policy holders.Drive a hard bargain for better car insurance

When Peter Ryan lost 90% of his vision in his early 20s, his readjustment was emotionally painful, but maturing, says Helen O’CallaghanA new way of seeing the world: Peter Ryan talks about losing 90% of his sight in his early 20s

More From The Irish Examiner