PAY-TV firm BSkyB posted better-than-expected first-half operating profit after the operator sold an increasing number of HD TV services and more on-demand movies and box-sets at Christmas, in part offsetting higher sports rights costs.
The company today reported operating profit for the six months to end-December of £595m, down 8pc, on revenue up 7.6pc to £3.75bn, broadly in line with expectations.
Profit at the firm is being squeezed by higher costs for sports rights and marketing as it fends off more aggressive competition.
But Sky said it was continuing to add subscriptions for services like HD TV, with connections for its Sky+HD boxes up 1 million in the second quarter to 4.4m, and had seen a threefold increase in On Demand usage.
Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch said: "In a consumer environment that remains challenging, customers continued to choose to take Sky products in ever greater numbers in the run-up to Christmas with second quarter growth up by over 40pc on last year."
Subscribers took 873,000 new products, such as HD TV and broadband, in the second quarter, which includes Christmas, beating market expectations of 731,000 total product additions.
Analysts were expecting operating profit of £586m on revenue of £3.76bn, according to a company-supplied consensus of eight analysts.
It increased its interim dividend by 9.1pc to 12p a share