19 Oct 2012

Sky TV holds to flat profit projection

1:57 pm on 19 October 2012

Sky TV blames the loss of subscribers in the first three months of the financial year on the weak economy and the long-delayed launch of its joint venture to sell a cheaper product, Igloo.

The pay TV operator is keeping to its previous forecast for a flat performance over the coming year, saying it expects to make a net profit of between $120 to $125 million, compared to nearly $123 million in the year to June.

Shareholders were told at their annual meeting in Auckland on Thursday that the number of subscribers has fallen by about 5000 in the first quarter.

Sky chief executive John Fellett says the figure is still higher than at the start of the year, and the loss is a fraction of the total 800,000 subscribers.

Numbers have dropped off since the Olympics, though he says the Games may have encouraged people to subscribe earlier than planned.

And while subscribers tend not to disconnect during economic recessions, a recession does make it harder to pick up new subscribers.

Mr Fellett says technical delays in launching Igloo probably cost it 5000 - 10,000 subscribers that would otherwise have signed up on a temporary basis.

He expects 150,000 subscribers to sign up for the discount Igloo service in the next five years.

While the overall industry has suffered a fall in advertising revenue in the first quarter, the Olympics coverage on eight Sky channels boosted its ad revenues.

"The industry, for the quarter ending 30 September, was down 3% on the identical period a year ago," he says.

"Maybe the fact that we had the Olympics saw a disproportionate amount of revenue come to us so that we didn't feel it".

Though the Olympics were a boon, next time Sky it would cut its own team coverage and share resources with other broadcasters.