Sky delivers hike in half-year earnings amid Fox takeover saga
BROADCASTING giant Sky has posted a leap in half-year earnings as it added new customers and benefited from a hike in demand for pay-as-you-go products.
The group reported a 10 per cent rise in underlying earnings to ?1.1 billion for the six months to the end of December as it added 365,000 new customers and sold 20 million pay-as-you-go products, such as one-off films and sporting events.
The figures come days after Britain's competition watchdog provisionally blocked 21st Century Fox's ?11.7 billion bid to take full control of Sky.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal would hand Fox owner Rupert Murdoch and his family too much control over UK news media and is looking at remedies before making its final decision by May 1.
Sky's interim results showed the group's customer base stands at 22.9 million after the half-year performance.
Chief executive Jeremy Darroch cheered an "excellent" set of results against a difficult consumer market, with household finances under pressure.
He said: "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.
"Looking ahead, we expect the consumer environment to remain challenging, however we remain confident in our strategy and our ability to execute our plans."
On a reported basis, operating profits rose 24 per cent to ?573 million, while revenues lifted 5 per cent to ?6.7 billion.
Mr Darroch said Sky had continued to keep a lid on costs through efficiency savings, but would remain focused on investing in original content "each and every year".
It said viewing on Sky channels rose 6 per cent, boosted by the success of its Sky Original productions.
But the results come at a tense time for the broadcaster amid speculation that Sky News may be closed to see the Fox deal approved.
Mr Murdoch - who also owns newspapers including The Times and The Sun - will have to find a way to appease the CMA, which could include spinning Sky News off, protecting its editorial independence, or closing the channel.