Sky's in front and shows no sign of slowing down


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Sky the company looks much like Sky  the cycling team. They are both ruthlessly efficient operations, able to consistently show rivals and critics a clean pair of heels – or wheels – by dint of outstanding performance.

The rate at which Sky adds customers is growing while churn (the rate at which they leave) is falling, making for a healthy increase in overall numbers. Customers even appear to have taken June’s price rise on the chin. The German business is powering ahead and while Italy (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) is more of a problem, the addition of the European operations is something shareholders can feel good about.

The only puzzle is why Sky felt the need to pay quite as much as it did to retain its dominance over Premier League football.

It effectively bid against itself, given that BT was only really in the hunt for a second-tier package. And the whiff of scandal – albeit based on hearsay and supposition – the cycling team just can’t seem to pedal away from will doubtless fade away when some of Britain’s young elite footballers start putting the fruits of the staggering amount Sky paid to screen them to work in the nation’s nightspots. Managers and administrators may contribute too.

So far the public seems willing to forgive and forget. Or at least to ignore, even if some might shudder at Sky’s inflated football fees. Until that changes Sky won’t change its formula. It knows that even as it pedals its way through what it is still likely to be a tough competitive quarter it’s still wearing the yellow jersey. For now.