BSkyB boosts results thanks to subs

150K added viewers help raise revs to $2.7 bil

LONDON — U.K. satcaster BSkyB reported another strong set of results Tuesday and is on track to meet its 7 million subscriber target by the end of the year, according to chief executive Tony Ball.

The paybox added 150,000 subscribers in the last quarter, bringing the total to 6.7 million, and raised revenue by 23% to 1.7 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) for the nine months ended March 31, the third successive nine-month period of over 20% growth.

Operating profit before goodwill and exceptional items increased 96% to $396 million. Profit after tax stood at $51.6 million.

Programming costs increased by $190 million to $1.8 billion due to a rise in sports costs and a 25% increase in the number of hit movies delivered by the U.S. studios.

Company said performance is due to a 14% increase in the average number of direct-to-home subscribers and continued growth in average revenue per user. Churn rate for the year to date fell to 9.3%, a new record low despite a price rise in the quarter.

Bucking the trend of a lackluster economy, ad revenue continued to increase, rising 15% over the same period a year ago to $318 million.

But wholesale revenues from distribution of Sky channels on other platforms such as cable operators Telewest and NTL fell 34% to $228 million, due to a loss of cable subs in the last year. Sky is in discussions with cable operators to improve the number of Sky premium channels taken by their subs.

“In what is normally a quiet period, we have delivered healthy subscriber growth and an operating profit which has almost doubled year on year, thanks to strong revenue growth and sustained cost control,” said Ball. “We remain on track to hit all of our targets.”

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