Homes in the UK are signing up for the Sky+ digital video recorder at an average rate of more than one a minute and the new high-definition service is also proving popular, despite initial supply problems.
UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB reported a net annual increase of 389,000 subscribers to 8.2 million. Over the year it added 665,000 Sky+ homes. Just under a fifth of subscribers now have a Sky+ digital video recorder, up 75% to just over 1.5 million from 8.8 million the previous year.
Within two months of launch Sky has also signed up around 90,000 subscribers to its new high-definition service, which includes a personal video recorder as standard. By the end of June 38,000 had been installed, with the remainder expected to be in place by September, following an initial shortage of set-top boxes supplied by Thomson.
However, the overall rate of subscriber growth has slowed slightly in comparison to the previous year, but Sky maintains that it is still on track to reach 10 million homes in 2010.
In the same period, the number of Freeview terrestrial homes has risen from 4.9 million to 7.3 million, and is expected to overtake satellite as the most popular digital television platform in the UK.
Announcing annual results, BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch said the industry was changing faster than ever before. “We have a clear vision for the future growth and direction of our business and we feel encouraged by the strong demand our customers show for new entertainment and communications services,” he said. “With a continued focus on providing more choice, flexibility and control, we feel confident as we look ahead to the substantial opportunity this market holds for us.”
Sky revenues for the year exceeded £4 billion for the first time, at £4.148 million, generating an operating profit of £ 877 million, a pre-tax profit of just under £800 million and a profit of £pound; 551 million.
Sky Active revenues for the year were £91 million, with good rates of growth reported for interactive advertising and enhanced television service revenues compensating for loss of retail revenues from discontinued SkyBuy services.
Sky Bet revenues were up to £pound;37 million form £32;million the previous year.
In preparation for the rollout of its recently announced broadband internet service, Sky has added 1,500 more customer service staff and 600 new home installation engineers. The company is not saying how many customers had expressed an interest in the new broadband offering, but James Murdoch told analysts he was “very happy with the response”.
Their online movie download service is now claimed to be the largest in Europe, despite a low-key launch.
Sky has also announced the complete acquisition of online publisher Mykindaplace in which it was an early investor with 49% stake. The business, which produces web sites for teenagers, as well as sites for Sky, will form part of Sky’s multi-platform content division, Sky Networked Media.
James Baker, Managing Director of the division, said: “We intend to super-serve audiences in key content genres and target new users with a suite of content-rich sites that deepen customer relationships and drive new revenue.”