In a period where it attracted most headlines for its corporate acquisitions and even a rebrand, in the first half of its financial year Sky has got on with what it does best: making more money.
These results are the first since the pay-TV giant expanded its business by formally completing the acquisition of Sky Italia and taking a majority interest in Sky Deutschland. Indeed Sky says that during the first half of the year it experienced good momentum across its expanded business, and continued growing customer demand across the group.
The results highlighted 'significant' out-performance in the UK and Ireland with 204,000 new customers, the highest growth in nine years, and over a million new products, the highest growth in four years in the two countries. Germany and Austria contributed record growth with 214,000 new customers while there was also strong performance in Italy with 30,000 new customers, the highest growth in 12 quarters.
Overall, the company revealed that for the six months ended 31 December 2014 it posted revenues of £5.6 billion, up 5% year-on-year, driving an operating profit of £675 million that was 16% up on the figure posted for the corresponding period of 2013/2014. By 31 December 2014, Sky had in total 24.84 million customers, 20.6 million of which retail subscribers, with 52.03 million paid-for products. This represented like for like yearly growth across the estate of 5.04% and 9.63% respectively.
The UK and Ireland had what was described as "an exceptional" Q2 with the highest product growth in four years at more than one million, 17% higher than the same period last year. Within this, TV growth more than doubled to 202,000 and Sky saw good growth in broadband with 106,000 additions. The addition of 204,000 new retail customers in the quarter was also the highest rate of customer growth since 2005 and reflected strong performance across both the core Sky products and the NOW TV over-the-top (OTT) offerings.
Yet the star performer for the UK and Ireland was on-demand. During the half-year Sky's connected TV platform broke its own previous record with almost two billion download and streaming requests made by its customers during 2014, working out to 60 requests per second and increase of nearly 50% on the number of downloads and streams in 2013. There are now 6.5 million customers connected to Sky On Demand, and 5.8 million registered users for mobile TV service Sky Go in the UK and Ireland.
Commenting on the results, Sky Group chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: "We have delivered an excellent operational and financial performance in our first set of results as the new Sky ... our approach to segmenting the market with the complementary Sky and NOW TV brands is working. Across the board, customers are responding to our investment in more high quality TV and innovative new services. This has resulted in the highest customer growth in nine years, the highest total product growth in four years and the lowest churn in a decade ... Integration [of the business in the UK, Germany and Italy] is progressing well and we are excited about the potential for the three businesses to be even stronger together."