Sky passes 9m subscriber mark as HD takes off

LONDON - BSkyB has passed the 9m subscriber mark after it added more than 400,000 taking Sky + and a record number signing up to Sky+ HD service.

The company finished the quarter ended September 30 with 9,067,000 customers.

Sign-ups of 87,000 new customers came in well ahead of expectations by analysts Screen Digest, which had seen 60,000 as a "good set of results".

Screen Digest had predicted Sky would suffer from a seasonal downturn with average revenue per user down to £423 from £427 in the previous quarter, but in the event average per user revenue increased to £430.

The number of Sky+ subscribers increased by 421,000 to reach 4,135,000, which is almost half of the customer base.

Sky+ HD subscribers grew by 93,000 to 591,000. The company credited growing awareness of HD and availability of content such as the Olympics for the growth, in addition to its price cut on the service by £99 to £150.

Its broadband and telephony services attracted more sign-ups, with broadband now in 20% of Sky homes thanks to 164,000 new customers and telephony in 15% of Sky homes with 120,000 new customers.

Pre-tax profits for the quarter were £129m, up 6.6% year on year.

Revenues increased by 5.4% to £1.25bn with retail subscriptions accounting for the bulk of the growth. Advertising revenues fell by 13% to £68m.

Jeremy Darroch, chief executive of Sky, said: "This is a good set of results in a challenging environment. Over nine million customers now enjoy the best in entertainment through Sky and, in tougher times, we're helping more people to save money on broadband and telephony as well."