Sky Grows Subscribers, Posts 10 Percent Rise in Nine-Month Earnings

SKY headquarters 2- Isleworth on May 9, 2017 - Getty-H 2018
Leon Neal/Getty Images

The European pay TV giant, led by CEO Jeremy Darroch, is awaiting a decision on Fox's plans to take full ownership as Comcast has also offered to buy Sky.

European pay TV giant Sky, in which 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, on Thursday reported its fiscal third-quarter subscriber figures and financials for the first nine months of its fiscal year, which ends in June. 

The company, led by CEO Jeremy Darroch, reported that revenue for the nine months to the end of March rose 5 percent to £10.1 billion ($14.3 billion), while core earnings were up 10 percent to £1.7 billion ($2.4 billion)

Sky also reported that it added retail customers in the latest quarter, driven by a 70,000 subscriber gain in the U.K., its largest market. But the company recorded a decline of 30,000 subscribers in Germany and Austria, saying that was due to the planned churn of lower-value customers, and a drop of 2,000 in Italy.

Fox has been waiting for a U.K. decision on its plan to acquire the rest of Sky, while Comcast has also signaled it wants to buy Sky for a higher price tag. Meanwhile, Fox in December agreed to sell large parts of its empire, including its Sky stake, to Walt Disney for $52.4 billion.

CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore said the results were "another good quarter of growth" for Sky, in particular the U.K., although he pointed to challenges in Germany and Italy. "It’s been a key period with securing the Premier League rights to 2022 in the U.K and announcing new partnerships with Netflix and Spotify for Sky Q, as well as the MediaSet and OpenFibre deals in Italy," he said. "This suggests that Sky is firmly positioning itself as an aggregator of content and services."