British satellite-TV giant BSkyB swung into the black in its fiscal first half as sales rose and its subscriber base expanded.

The pay-TV firm – 36.6% owned and effectively controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – posted pre-tax profits of £16.6 million ($26.8m; €24.8m) in the six months to December, reversing a loss of £1.25 billion in the same period the year before. The latter figure reflected extraordinary payments relating to the conversion from analogue to digital and a write-down of its stake in Germany’s KirchPayTV [WAMN: 08-Feb-02].

Underlying profits more than doubled from £70.1m to £158.3m, while sales rose from £1.32bn to £1.51bn.

Fuelling the growth was a rise in the number of subscribers (up 244,000 to 6.56m in the second quarter), a reduction of its churn rate to a two-year low of 9.4% and a 6% rise in average annual revenue per customer to £351.

Over the last twelve months, BSkyB has also benefited from the collapse of rival pay-TV firm ITV Digital and the ongoing financial difficulties at cable operators NTL and Telewest.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff