Brits Aren't Cord Cutting, Says Sky Executive

Illustration by: Paweł Jońca

The top manager at the pan-European pay TV giant cites lower penetration than in the U.S. and a longer history of competition and choice.

Britain hasn't seen any pay TV cord cutting due to different market dynamics than in the U.S., a top executive of pan-European giant Sky said in London on Wednesday.

That is "definitely not what is happening in the U.K.," Mai Fyfield, group director of strategy at Sky, told the Financial Times Digital Media 2015 Conference when discussing coverage of U.S. cord cutting. "We just don’t have the same issue here."

"Pay TV penetration in the U.S. is a lot higher than in the U.K.," she said. Pay TV penetration across Western Europe is below 60 percent, compared with 80 percent to 90 percent in the U.S. Fyfield also noted that the British market has a longer history of competition with big players, such as Sky, offering a broader choice of services.

She mentioned that Sky itself, for example, has been offering stand-alone online video service Now TV as a lower-end option for consumers, while in the U.S., digital players have launched cheaper video options for consumers that compete with pay TV operators' offers. She said Britain's range of product choices "keeps the number of customers growing here in the U.K."

Sky, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, recently posted its strongest quarter of subscriber growth in 11 years.

Fyfield also said that linear TV viewing has declined slowly in recent years. "Consumer behavior changes quite slowly," she said. "Customers like the lean-back, passive experience." She added that there has been "hardly any change" for audiences over the age of 65.

Twitter: @georgszalai