Satellite broadcaster BSkyB unveiled record profits today as a dramatic football season and hit US shows such as Game of Thrones continued to boost customer numbers.
The group reported a 14% jump in operating profits to £1.2 billion in the year to June 30 as it added 312,000 customers to bring its total base to 10.6 million.
Premier League audiences were up 12% year on year, BSkyB said, with the Manchester City and Manchester United derby bringing in a record 4.29 million viewers.
An entertainment line up including comedy drama Stella on Sky1 and fantasy drama Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic helped bring in 57,000 households in the final quarter alone, although this was a slowdown on 78,000 in the previous quarter.
BSkyB cheered investors as it unveiled plans for a £500 million share buyback, which is subject to shareholder approval on November 1. Shares in the group rose 1%.
Manoj Ladwa, head of trading at TJ Markets, said: "Impressive results from BSkyB as they managed to beat analyst estimates. Investors will be encouraged by the addition of 57,000 net customers in the fourth quarter and the bold share buy-back scheme."
Elsewhere, BSkyB said it will pump £30 million into the launch of its new internet TV service Now TV as it moves to compete with online services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.
At a cost of £15 a month, Now TV will start by showing films but over the next 12 months it will add Sky's sports and entertainment offer.