22 Aug 2019

Sky TV posts net $607m loss

11:30 am on 22 August 2019

Sky Network Television has written down the value of large parts of its business and scrapped paying a dividend as it changes direction to counter falling pay TV subscribers.

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The company shed more satellite pay TV subscribers but gained some on its other subscription services. Photo: 123RF

The pay TV operator reported a net loss of $607.8 million for the June year compared with last year's loss of $240m.

Sky said it would take $670m in write-offs in the value of assets, and the costs of a now scrapped technology project.

Chief executive Martin Stewart said the company was being rebuilt.

"We live in an uncertain world and we have looked at a range of different scenarios and assumptions for the future.

"For the purposes of accounting we needed to pick a point estimate and we have selected one that no longer includes increases in hybrid and satellite subscribers, and we have taken a more conservative estimate of our future average revenues, reflecting our decisions around where we invest and how we price our future offers to customers."

Underlying earnings excluding the write-offs fell 16 percent to $241m, while revenue fell 7 percent to $795m as it shed more satellite pay TV subscribers but gained some on its other subscription services, and costs rose 31 percent to $76.3m.

Mr Stewart ditched Sky's development of a new puck device, similar to an Apple TV device, when he took over at the start of the year. It would have allowed customers to watch streaming services like Neon on television.

It has faced strong competition from telecommunications company Spark, which has bought a wide range of sports broadcasting rights including this year's Rugby World Cup, English Premier League football, basketball, hockey, and motorsport.

However, Mr Stewart was optimistic about Sky's future.

"Our business is poised to compete vigourously for, and to win key sports rights, to introduce new digital services and to invest in better experiences for our customers," he said.

"We are pursuing opportunities to work with partners to offer Sky services to more customers, and are well on our way to achieving our goal of being in the hands of all New Zealanders.

It announced last week that it would buy the Dublin-based rugby streaming website RugbyPass for $US40m in a mix of cash and shares.

Sky will not pay a dividend for the second half as it looks to conserve cash. Long-standing chairman Peter Macourt will step down in September to be replaced by Philip Bowman.