Friday, November 04, 2005

More adventures in Q3 earnings numbers

BSkyB reported its Q1 results (that's everyone else's Q3) this morning, and while most of the key items in the P&L are broadly in line, net subscriber intake was at the weak end of the forecast range at 57k. Consensus appears to have been around 68k, I was looking for 70k, and the most optimistic forecast according to Reuters was 87k. Stripping out Sky's Ireland business, net adds in the UK were only 48k. Annualized churn was up to 11.7%, 1.2 percentage points than in the June quarter. If this were obviously being absorbed by cable, that would be one thing, but NTL yesterday reported spectacularly weak numbers for the quarter (4.2k digital additions, 21.8k disconnections on analogue). Telewest reports next week, but I'm not convinced that things will look much better. HomeChoice has today been featured in a Reuters story, claiming 34k subs currently (i.e., net adds of 19k in roughly 9 months), so its effect in Q3 was probably marginal. [UPDATE: It turns out that this was a press release, which I did not receive for some reason. ] We can only assume that what market growth there is continues to be driven by Freeview, and perhaps that interest in TV generally is trending lower, faster than some might have expected. Sky's going to have to push hard in the remainder of this quarter to hit the 8m mark it has pledged, which explains the ubiquitous ad presence. It probably also underlines just how important a move Easynet was.

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