Game of Thrones helps push Sky’s rev­enues past £3bn

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY HOLLY WIL­LIAMS

THE pop­u­lar­ity of Game Of Thrones — which is part-filmed in North­ern Ire­land — has helped in­crease Sky’s rev­enues and num­ber of cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to the firm’s lat­est re­sults.

The broad­cast­ing giant, cur­rently the sub­ject of an £11.7bn takeover bid from Ru­pert Mur­doch’s 21st Cen­tury Fox, added 160,000 new cus­tomers in the first quar­ter of the fi­nan­cial year — a rise of 51%.

The group said that fan­tasy drama Game Of Thrones was its “most-watched se­ries ever” and also hailed home-grown se­ries Riviera af­ter it notched up 20 mil­lion down­loads.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeremy Dar­roch said in­vest­ment in pro­duc­tion was “de­liv­er­ing”, with cus­tomer view­ing to Sky pay chan­nels up 10% year-on-year.

The group shrugged off pres­sure on con­sumer and ad­ver­tis­ing spend­ing to post a 5% rise in rev­enues to £3.3bn for the quar­ter, while un­der­ly­ing earn­ings also jumped 11% higher to £582m.

Mr 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.

“Look­ing ahead, de­spite the

un­cer­tainty in the broader con­sumer en­vi­ron­ment, we re­main on track with our plans and en­ter the busy sec­ond-quar­ter trad­ing

pe­riod fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing our clear strat­egy for growth.”

The up­date came as Sky chair­man James Mur­doch faced share­hold­ers amid un­rest over his in­de­pen­dence and con­cerns on pay plans for top bosses.

Mr Mur­doch is chief ex­ec­u­tive of Fox, which is at­tempt­ing to seize con­trol of the 61% of Sky it does not al­ready own.

Share­holder ad­vi­sory groups in­clud­ing In­sti­tu­tional Share­holder Ser­vices, Glass Lewis and Pirc have called on in­vestors to vote against his re-elec­tion at Sky’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing and also to rebel against what they claim are po­ten­tially “ex­ces­sive” pay plans.

Sky con­firmed in its an­nual re­port last month that chief ex­ec­u­tive Jeremy Dar­roch’s to­tal an­nual pay packet more than tre­bled to £16.3m.

Show stars Emilia Clarke (Daen­erys Tar­garyen) and Kit Har­ing­ton (Jon Snow)

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