BSkyB profits rise as customers flock to HD

HD subscribers pass one million for the first time

BSkyB has shrugged off the economic gloom to post a 13 per cent rise in profits in the first three months of the year, as the number of customers flocking to its high-definition service broke through the one million barrier for the first time.

Pre-tax profits at Sky, which is 39 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, rose from £56m between January and March 2008, to £63m in the corresponding period this year.

Sky cited "a strong take-up of additional products," specifically high-definition television and its TV recording service Sky+. During the quarter 80,000 signed up to Sky, bringing its total customers to 9.3 million.

Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at Numis, called it an "exceptional operation performance in the financial third quarter".

For the past year, Sky has been investing heavily in moving customers over to HD, saying it continues "to see a significant opportunity". Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates, said last year that HDTV would be everywhere by 2018, while analysts have said the recession has done little to slow its growth. Elroy Jopling of Gartner said HD was proving popular as families spent less on going out in the crunch.

Sky credits its move to slash the price of an HD box to £49 in January. When it first launched HD in May 2006, the cost was £399. The company said the new pricing "was met with an accelerated rate of take-up," with 243,000 customers signing up to the service. The rush proved to be a record quarter and took Sky's HD subscribers to 1.02 million, more than double the same time last year.

The growth in HD led Sky to pledge in January that it would create 1,000 jobs by June. So far it has added 750.

Sky+ also had a successful quarter, attracting 406,000 customers in the first three months of the year, up 55 per cent on the previous year.

"We have made a strong start to 2009," Sky's chief executive, Jeremy Darroch, said, continuing: "We are progressing well against the priorities we set out in January. The combination of the long-term trend towards high definition and the launch of our new HD box strategy generated a huge response."

HD television offers better picture and sound quality, although the subscription package is more expensive. While several broadcasters have launched HD channels, Sky has by far the most, currently running at 33. So far the highest viewing figures in the UK for an HD programme were for Manchester United's defeat of Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup final.

Sky said its broadcasting figures were also strong with the return of "US drama favourites" including Lost and 24 during its third financial quarter. It is banking on a summer of sport to keep the ratings high, with The Ashes, the British & Irish Lions tour and the US Open Tennis screened on its channels.

Mr Darroch expects market conditions to remain challenging this year, saying Sky would "stay focused on cost efficiency to allow us to invest sensibly in areas that drive long-term value for the business, such as high definition".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there