Sky’s CEO proclaimed a “strong start” to its new financial year as sales and profits rose in the three months to September.

The Group saw revenues rise five percent year-on-year to £3.3 billion, while EBITDA was up 11 percent to £582 million.

There were 160,000 customer additions in the quarter, up 51 percent, with its total subscriber base now at over 26 million.

Customers added 800,000 individual subscription services in the quarter to take the total to 60 million, while purchases of sports and entertainment add-ons rose 12 percent to 9.6 million.

In the UK and Ireland, Sky’s largest market, revenues grew four percent to £2.2 billion and EBITDA 11 percent to £452 million.

Its MVNO Sky Mobile, launched last year, added 108,000 customers to reach a total of 205,000 in the quarter, while Sky VIP, a loyalty programme offering free tickets and prize draws to customers which launched in the UK in August, now has over 1 million users.

In Germany & Austria, revenues rose eight percent to £495 million and EBITDA rose 35 percent to £23 million, while in Italy revenues grew two percent to £605 million and EBITDA rose eight percent to £107 million.

Group CEO Jeremy Darroch said efforts to broaden its proposition for customers had “come through”.

He cited the success of Sky’s self-produced drama Riviera in reaching 20 million downloads, and highlighted Game of Thrones becoming the most watched series ever on the network.

The company is set to increase its investments in original content by 25 percent this year.

“Looking ahead, despite the uncertainty in the broader consumer environment, we remain on track with our plans and enter the busy Q2 trading period focused on delivering our clear strategy for growth,” Darroch added.

Plans to merge with 21st Century Fox are facing a new hurdle after the UK Culture Secretary decided to refer the acquisition to the country’s competition regulator.

Yesterday James Murdoch, CEO of Fox, was re-elected as Sky’s chairman.

CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore said: “The quarter underlines the importance of cross selling services such as mobile in the UK which performed well.

“Increasing loyalty among subscribers is a clear strategic priority with the rollout of Sky VIP [which had a] strong start with more than a million users having signed up.

“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.”

Last month, Sky launched a contract-free TV offering in Spain which allows customers to watch content from 12 channels live and via catch-up on mobile devices and on the web.

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