HD for all as Sky sees strong revenue and subscriber growth

UK pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB is provide HD boxes to all new subscribers from now on, the company has said. Sky reported a 10% jump in its first-half revenues to £2.873bn (€3.303bn), boosted by strong take-up of its HD product.

Sky will start selling HD-enabled boxes as standard and customers will receive the box for free if they subscribe to its HD pack. Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch also confirmed that the broadcaster would launch its first 3DTV channel in April, with a first live public broadcast on the existing Sky Plus HD platform scheduled for this weekend (see separate story). The 3D service will initially be available to commercial customers, offering a live Premier League football match each week. The service will be made available to Sky Plus HD customers later in the year.

Sky has also launched a new premium HD box with 1TB of storage, enabling subscribers to store the equivalent of about 240 hours of HD content. The box is available for £249 plus an installation fee. Darroch said Sky also planned to launch a video-on-demand service to HD boxes later this year.

Sky added 172,000 subscribers in the last quarter, taking its total to 9.708 million. The Sky Plus HD service attracted a further 482,000 customers, taking its total to 2.082m. The Sky Plus DVR service grew by 553,000, taking its total to 6.455 million. The multiroom product grew by 102,000 to just under two million.

Sky’s broadband base grew by a further 101,000 in the quarter. The operator now has 2.404 million broadband subscribers and 2.112 million telephony customers. Triple-play customers now account for 18% of the subscriber base. ARPU grew by 11% to £492 a year.

Operating profit grew by 3% to £401m. Broadband and telephony losses halved to £37m. The company invested around £70m in developing the HD platform in the course of the first half, while marketing costs grew by 22% to £540m and subscriber acquisition costs increased by £30 to £320 in the second quarter.

Darroch said that Sky had increased the interim dividend to shareholders by a further 5% following the delivery of 11% growth in earnings per share in the first half.