Credit: Nordhorneril/Wikimedia

Football bidding war fails to derail Sky

Profits, revenues and customer numbers are all soaring at the TV and telecoms giant.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 30 Jul 2015

It seems the rise of online streaming and BT's move into TV have done little to stymie Sky's progress. The pay-TV and telecoms provider announced today that its revenues (adjusted for the acquisition of its Deutschland and Italia arms) in the year to June 30 were up 5% to £11.3bn as its customer numbers grew by almost one million in the same period.

Its performance in the UK was especially strong, with operating profits up 12% to £1.3bn and the 'highest organic customer growth in 11 years'. Revenues in Germany and Austria were up a strong 9%, though they declined slightly in Italy. Adjusted pre-tax profits across the whole group were up 6% to £1.2bn.

'The past 12 months have been an outstanding period of growth for Sky,' said chief executive Jeremy Darroch. 'We've successfully completed a deal that has transformed the size and scale of opportunity for the business whilst delivering an excellent financial and operational performance as more customers chose Sky and took more of our products.'

The telecoms industry has played host to an M&A war over the last year or so as providers have been keen to offer broadband, phone, TV and mobile services in one 'quad-play' package. In February BT agreed to buy mobile network EE - after deciding not to buy O2, which was later acquired by Three.

Meanwhile Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media, has reportedly been in talks about a merger with Vodafone. Though it has announced plans to launch its own mobile phone contracts in a deal with O2, Sky's expensive acquisition of its European subsidiaries left it unable to join the M&A fray. Judging by today's figures, that doesn't seem to have harmed it too much so far.

It's not been a walk in the park though. Sky has faced particularly strong competition from BT, which has been hoovering up football TV rights that were previously seen as a cornerstone of Sky's product. In the latest round of Premier League bids Sky was forced to pay £4.2bn to retain its grip on the most popular games (almost twice what it paid before), and BT has also snapped up the rights to the Champions League, which it will start broadcasting exclusively from this summer.

That could have been a massive blow to Sky, although the MD of its Sports division poured water on BT's ambitions last month by claiming that Champions League viewing figures were flatlining – effectively claiming that BT had poured its cash down the drain. But while Sky may be on a roll, BT seems to have the bit between its teeth and is unlikely to give up any time soon.

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