The broadcaster revealed plans to hire more staff in Yorkshire as it posted a fall in full-year operating profits, after it was stung by an increase in the cost of broadcasting live Premier League football.
The Game Of Thrones broadcaster saw operating profits slip 6 per cent to £1.4bn in the year to June 30 after absorbing £629m of costs linked to its deal to show England’s top-tier football. Revenues climbed 5 per cent to £12.9bn over the period, despite Sky pointing to a weaker UK advertising market.
The financial results came as it added 280,000 customers in the UK, including 35,000 in the fourth quarter.
Group chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the results underscored Sky’s “growth and development” and he also announced plans to create 300 new technology roles.
Mr Darroch added: “The new roles will be split between Milan, Leeds and London under our new innovation centre, Sky Labs. “This additional resource will enhance our capability to deploy the market leading in and out-of-home streaming platforms that our customers demand; to create brilliantly usable on-screen interfaces; develop enhanced personalisation and app-based platforms.”
Sky did not reveal the precise number of jobs that are expected to be created in Leeds, although 200 of the new roles will be UK-based.
Mr Darroch added: “We enter ‘17/18 in a strong position with significant growth potential. Despite the broader consumer environment remaining uncertain, we are confident of delivering on the plans we’ve laid out.”
Last year, Sky launched a world-class technology hub at the regenerated Leeds Dock. In March, Sky said it had surpassed its initial target by hiring more than 650 highly-skilled employees, beating the initial goal of creating 400 jobs at the site.
Sky said its investment in Leeds Dock shows it is committed to working together with the Government to help bridge the digital skills gap, particularly in the North of England.
The group is still the subject of a takeover attempt by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which is attempting to acquire the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own in an £11.7 billion deal.
Earlier this month, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she is “still minded” to refer the bid to the UK’s competition watchdog.
The Cabinet minister said no final decision has been taken but, unless new evidence changes her mind in the coming weeks, she will refer the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on “at least one ground” - that of media plurality.
Sky also revealed that Mr Darroch is to pocket an £11.5m share payout.
In a stock market disclosure, Sky said that Mr Darroch intends to offload 1.2 million shares in the broadcaster, which were awarded as part of his long-term incentive plan.
“In some ways, the results are academic as the main driver for the share price is the Fox bid,” Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker said.
He added: “However, with the bid likely to come under review from the competition authorities and subject to political approval, if there is any concern the bid will not go through, the shares could come under pressure as investors focus more on the fundamentals.”