BSkyB, the UK-based, News Corp-controlled pay-TV provider, today posted record profits for the year, rising 14 percent to £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) in the 12 months that ended June 30. Full-year revenues were £6.8 billion ($10.4 billion), a rise of three percent on 2011. Earnings per share were also up: they are now at 50.8 pence ($0.79), a rise of 22 percent.
While BSkyB has built its business on a satellite-based pay-TV service hooked on exclusive sports broadcasting rights, it’s laying groundwork for how it will ensure it remains a dominant company even as people move to new platforms: BSkyB also revealed the value of its investment in streaming-box provider Roku, announced yesterday — it’s $10 million — and gave a bit more detail on a £30-million plan for rolling out its service to Roku and other OTT services via its new non-sub Sky NOW TV product; as well as an update and expansion of its Sky Go service, its OTT play for existing subscribers, which now has 2.7 million monthly unique users. And BSkyB also announced today some international expansion: it will begin to offer its triple-play service of broadband, phone and pay-TV in Ireland.
Overall, it was a strong set of results for the company after what has been a difficult year PR-wise — an attempted full takeover by News Corp got scuppered after UK officials stepped in in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and worries of News Corp dominance; and it lost chairman James Murdoch in the process. On the soft-news positive side, it did cap things off well, with the Sky-sponsored cycling team winning the Tour de France last week.
Average revenues per user are up to £548 , churn is down to 9.9% and it added 57,000 new customers bringing its total to 28.4 million users across all products. Within that it said it had 10.6 million customers using Sky pay-TV, and four million taking its broadband service.
Some of the highlights for new digital services:
– The plans to go triple-play in Ireland — extending its existing pay-TV service via a wholesale agreement with BT — is to build on a product that has served BSkyB well in its home market. Back in May, during its last set of earnings, BSkyB announced that it had overtaken Virgin Media as the UK’s biggest triple-play provider. The Irish product will initially cover 1.6 million homes, the company said.
– Further digital investment. But while Sky has revealed strong results for the past year, it is also laying the groundwork for more further investments ahead. It says that it will invest £30 million ($46 million) in marketing in launching its OTT service NOW TV on new platforms. Those will include iPhone, iPad and Xbox “within the next month”; on YouView “when it launches” and other platforms like Sony PlayStation 3 and Roku “later this year.” It is already available via PCs, Macs, and some, but not all, Android smartphones. It didn’t specify the costs to develop the service, and whether those have been reflected in this year’s or next year’s results.
– Sky Go, BSkyB’s OTT play for existing subscribers featuring live and on-demand video, “continues to resonate strongly with customers”. Sky Go now has 2.7 million unique users, a rise of five percent on the last quarter. Today, Sky announced that it would add eight kids channels, including Disney and Nick Junior, to the service: the service overall features TV from 32 channels, a film library of 450 titles, and a movie rentals service. BskyB says that it will continue to expand Sky Go in the next year to cover more platforms and more features, “such as pause and rewind, search and personal recommendations.”