Sky Bet sees revenues soar as it takes market share from rivals

Richard Flint, MD, Sky Bet
Richard Flint, MD, Sky Bet
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BSkyB’s Yorkshire-based betting business Sky Bet reported a 20 per cent increase in revenues despite a football season that went the way of punters.

With fewer draws in the big football matches, bookmakers across the board have said the sporting results were not as favourable as this time last year.

BSkyB said Sky Bet revenues showed good growth, rising to £32m in the three months to September 30.

Sky Bet’s managing director Richard Flint said: “We’re pleased. Net revenue growth was 20 per cent as the sports results weren’t favourable. We grew our user numbers by more than 20 per cent.”

He added that half of the increase was from growth in customer numbers and the other half came from taking market share from rivals.

“Ladbrokes and some of the smaller players aren’t growing as well,” he said.

Sky Betting and Gambling, which employs 500 staff in Leeds, re-launched its Sky Bet mobile phone app earlier this year. It has taken over a million bets through the app.

Mr Flint said the division is in the process of filling 50 vacancies, which will all be in Leeds.

“If we continue to see revenue growth, we’ll grow employee numbers,” he added.

The company has over a million active customers and attracted half a million new customers in the last year.

Sky Bet, the sports betting division, recently became the new title sponsor of The Football League under a new five-year agreement.

The Football League’s flagship competition has been retitled The Sky Bet Football League, with its three divisions being titled The Sky Bet Championship, Sky Bet League 1 and Sky Bet League 2.

The agreement is Sky Bet’s first ever off-screen football sponsorship and is aimed at building greater awareness of Sky Bet’s growing range of online and mobile betting services.

“This is really big news for Sky Bet and also for the region,” said Mr Flint.

There are 10 Yorkshire clubs in those three divisions.

“We have a strong presence in Yorkshire so we are keen to make the most of our presence here.”

Sky has three sites and 1,100 employees in Leeds covering betting and gambling, digital sports media, a sales contact centre and a service contact centre.

It has another service contact centre, employing 500 people, in Sheffield.

Announcing first quarter results yesterday, BSkyB shrugged off the launch of rival BT’s new sports service with strong customer demand for its TV and broadband services. BT has launched a new TV service showing Premier League football free to existing broadband customers in an attempt to hold on to its core subscribers who have been moving to BSkyB in droves.

The offering is the biggest challenge to BSkyB since Rupert Murdoch launched the pay-TV group more than 20 years ago.

It had managed to grow during the economic downturn by selling more services to its existing base, such as broadband, as it became tougher to sign up new customers.

BSkyB added 111,000 broadband customers in the three months to September 30, up nine per cent compared with the same period last year.

The number was comfortably ahead of analysts’ forecasts of around 80,000.

The broadband additions mean BSkyB now has more than five million broadband subscribers, fast catching up with BT on 6.8 million.

Its TV offering attracted 37,000 new customers, taking the number of new, paid-for subscription products sold in the quarter to 800,000, up 50 per cent on the year.

The 37,000 TV additions were comfortably ahead of the 20,000 it added in the first quarter last year, but that did not include viewers who accessed Sky TV via Now TV, an online offering which enables consumers to pay for Sky for 24 hours.

Overall the group posted revenue and adjusted operating profit in line with analysts’ forecasts, with revenue up seven per cent to £1.8bn.

The battle with BT took its toll on adjusted operating profit, which was down eight per cent to £285m due to the higher price it had to pay for Premier League football rights.

Analysts at JP Morgan said: “With all the negative sentiment around potential BT Sport competition and its potential impact on BSkyB broadband net adds, we think the market will be comforted today by the better-than-expected broadband grow- th.”