The owner of Sky News says it had a “strong start to the year” as it awaits a decision on the proposed takeover by Fox.
Sky plc has reported “strong growth” in revenue and profits in its first quarter – with customer growth rising 51% on the same period a year ago.
The owner of Sky News, which is awaiting a decision on a takeover of the business by 21st Century Fox, said like-for-like revenue rose 5% to £3.3bn – aided by 161,000 customer additions across the group which includes the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy and now Spain.
Sky said that was helped by “strong campaigns in all markets around Game of Thrones 7”.
Core profits rose 11% to £582m.
The home and mobile entertainment and communications company has been investing in its core offering, aiming to drive customer growth through original programming.
Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “We’ve had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we’ve made come through.
“Against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on UK television advertising, we were particularly pleased with our own EBITDA growth of 15% in our Established Business.
“We continue to see good demand for our products and services with 51% more new customers joining Sky than a year ago; we surpassed the milestone of 60 million subscription products; and pay-as-you-go sports and entertainment buys grew by 12% to 9.6 million.
“Our investment on-screen to broaden our offering is delivering with viewing to Sky channels up 10% year on year.
“Within this the first series of our home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, becoming our highest ever rated Original commission and Game of Thrones has become the most watched series ever on Sky.”
The FTSE 100 firm released the results ahead of its AGM at its west London base.
It is expected to witness some shareholder pressure for an independent chairman as James Murdoch is also chief executive of Fox, which wants to buy Sky.
Fox currently owns 39.1% of Sky shares and wants to take full control of the business in a deal that would value Sky at £18.5bn.
The deal has been referred to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) by Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, on concerns over media plurality and broadcasting standards.
Such an investigation can take up to six months before Ms Bradley would make a final decision.
Sky shares – 7% down in the year to date – were 0.5% up in early trading following the release of the results statement.