Sky hit by costs of Premier League, announces HBO deal

Sky plc (BSY.L, SKY.L) reported statutory operating profit of 703 million pounds for the 9 months to 31 Mar 2017 compared to 802 million pounds, previous year.

The company, which is in the midst of being acquired by US media company 21st Century Fox (FOXA), recorded adjusted operating profit of 1.01 billion pounds ($1.29 billion) for the nine months to March 31, down from GBP1.14 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Overall group revenue rose by 5% to £9,641 million, while United Kingdom revenue increased by 4% to £6,410 million.

Sky holds a total of 22,423,000 subscribers including 12,691,000 in the UK & Ireland, 4,930,000 in Germany and Austria and 4,802,000 in Italy.

"We have delivered strong revenue growth of 11% and are on track financially with operating profit for the nine months exceeding GBP1.00 billion", Sky Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

More than a million customers have signed up to Sky Q since its launch in February 2016.

Chairman and CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler said "Sky has been a great partner for us and this deal allows even deeper collaboration between our two great companies, which have a long tradition in creating superior content for our customers".

"With Sky set to be acquired by 21st Century Fox, today's results are a bit of a side show, though perhaps that's a good thing because the numbers represent a little bit a wobble", said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown.

A virtual reality experience in partnership with Sir David Attenborough and the Natural History Museum is also under way.

The telecom giant expects the deal with HBO, the producer of The Sopranos, The Wire and Boardwalk Empire among others, to deliver at least two drama projects per year with the first project coming to screen in 2018.

Sky hopes the United Kingdom government will approve its takeover by Twenty-First Century Fox next month.

Fox is aiming to seize control of the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own and the bid comes five years after Mr Murdoch's last tilt at taking the business over through News Corporation.

  • Loretta Pittman