HD subs spark BSkyB

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Satcaster British Sky Broadcasting appears to be bucking the economic crisis, swinging to a net profit of £169 million ($251 million) for the nine months ending March 31 on revenue up 8% to $5.9 billion.

Driven by sports and movie content and technical innovation, BSkyB said Thursday that it added 80,000 net subscribers during the three months ending March 31. Momentum grew on the back of a low-cost HD box that cost $73 a unit during the period, compared with its earlier price of $222.

More than 1 million of Sky's 9.3 million subscribers now have the Sky+HD box, which offers DVR capability, and more than 5 million have a DVR box.

With customer additions well ahead of the 50,000-60,000 analysts had been forecasting, Sky shares traded up more than 6% on the news, rising to $7.33 despite overall gloomy trading in London.

Earnings before depreciation, amortization and taxation totaled £833 million ($1.24 billion), compared with £684 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2008.

Sky recently pulled out of the bidding for Tiscali, the broadband Internet and television operator that owns the Homechoice on-demand platform, but CEO Jeremy Darroch said on an investor call that while market conditions for 2009 "remained challenging," the satcaster was looking for growth opportunities.
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