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Profits are here as GoT boosts Sky results

Game of Thrones S7 brought Sky UK a record 4.7 million viewers

HBO drama Game of Thrones (GoT) has become the most watched show ever on UK pay TV operator Sky, boosting the satcaster’s first-quarter results.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s CEO, said the series had helped Sky revenues rise to £3.3bn (US$4.34bn) during the three months to September 30, up 5% on the same period last year. Core profits were up 11% at £582m, bolstered by a record 4.7 million viewers in the UK watching GoT’s penultimate seventh season.

Sky secured 160,000 new customers during the period and Darroch confirmed plans revealed earlier this year to ramp up investment in Sky Originals by 25% this year, with four new dramas every quarter.

Darroch said he was pleased with the earnings, particularly because of “the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on UK television advertising.”

Paolo Pescatore, VP of multiplay and media at analyst CCS Insight, cautioned that a “lack of subscriber guidance between its TV services” remained a concern but added the company had produced a “good set of results.”

“Subscriber growth is becoming harder to achieve in the UK so we expect Sky to place more focus on its European operations and enter new markets,” he added.

Sky is rolling out an SVoD service in Spain, a move first reported by C21 last year.

Despite investors again ratcheting up the pressure on Sky chairman James Murdoch, arguing that his position as chief executive at 21st Century Fox, which is attempting to buy the UK company, is a conflict of interest, has fallen on deaf ears. Murdoch will remain in position.

James Murdoch

Sky shareholder and asset management firm Royal London, as well as the Institute of Directors, had urged investors to vote against his re-election to the post.

Royal London’s corporate governance manager Ashley Hamilton Claxton criticised Murdoch’s dual position as “inappropriate” and said minority shareholders “would be better served by a truly independent chairman.”

Stephen Martin, director general at the Institute of Directors, added that the “issue is the lack of independence. James is in a difficult situation because he is currently chief executive of the controlling shareholder and also he’s the chairman of Sky, so there is a conflict, potentially.”

Sky have said Murdoch’s roles make him “uniquely well-placed” to be chairman of Sky because it provides him with a “deep knowledge” of the international media industry.

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