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SBD Global/May 2, 2014/Finance

Sky Sees Rise In Customers, Dip In Broadband Growth Over Last Three Months

Sky "added more than 70,000 TV customers in the three months to the end of March" -- its highest rate in five years -- but saw growth in customers signing up for broadband "drop by more than a third," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Sky said that a focus on marketing its TV products "had paid off" with 74,000 new subscribers in the period taking the total TV base to 10.6 million. The company "blamed the focus on pushing TV for a slowdown in the rate of sign-ups to its broadband service, with 70,000 new subscribers in the three-month period." Sky's pre-tax profits for the nine months to the end of March were £793M, down 17% year on year. Profits were also hit by the £70M investment announced to drive its connected set-top box strategy, and a one-off increase in Premier League TV rights costs (GUARDIAN, 5/1). ALLIANCE NEWS reported Sky said that its Sky Sports business average audience for the EPL "was up 7% from the previous year," and it noted that 49 of the 50 most watched matches "were aired on Sky Sports." It recorded a peak of 397,000 Sky Go viewers for a February match between Man City and Chelsea (ALLIANCE NEWS, 5/1). In London, Henry Mance reported Sky "also recorded its lowest number of new broadband customers in a quarter since 2006, amid poor weather and increased competition from BT." Sky’s shares have risen about 4% so far this year, "while BT’s have slipped slightly." In a note to clients, UBS analyst Polo Tang said, “While concerns about the [next Premier League football rights] auction will overhang [Sky’s] shares, we think [BT and Sky] are ultimately rational and will agree a wholesale deal on sports” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/1).
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