TV award nominations sparked strong growth at Sky as the British broadcaster sold its shows around the world.
The FTSE 100 company raked in more than £200million from its production arm in the year to June 30, thanks to its dramas and thrillers.
It came as Sky increased its broadband and pay-TV customer base to more than 23m, underlining why it is at the centre of a bidding war between Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and Universal Studios owner Comcast.
Sky raked in more than £200m from its production arm in the year to June 30, thanks to its dramas and thrillers
At the moment Comcast’s £26billion offer has been backed by Sky’s board, eclipsing a £24.5billion offer from Fox.
But analysts say Fox or Disney, which is buying Murdoch’s entertainment businesses, could come back with an even higher offer.
Jeremy Darroch, the group’s chief executive, said: ‘We’ve grown every year since we launched in 1989 and we’re not slowing down.
‘Sky is bigger and doing more for customers than ever before – we’re proud that is being recognised globally.’
Among top shows were Patrick Melrose, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which received five nominations for Emmy awards this year.
Other Sky-made programmes included Riviera and Save Me. The success has prompted Sky to ramp up its programming budget to about £500million this year, Darroch said.
And he hailed the addition of 500,000 customers in the UK, Germany and Italy during the year.
Overall, Sky, which also provides broadband and mobile services, said sales rose 5 per cent to £13.6billion, with profits rising 7 per cent to more than £1billion.
Both Comcast and Fox see the British firm as a key asset they can use to build their defences against online streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Brian Roberts, the boss of Comcast, previously said he was impressed by the Sky Q set top box during a visit to the UK.
The US firm is hoping to outmanoeuvre Fox, which wants to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own before selling it to Disney.
Yesterday Roberts said: ‘We are focused on Sky now. We think it’s a great business, it will fit well, good use of capital. It’s also unique.’
Shares in Sky are at record levels, and above Comcast’s latest offer, as investors bet Fox will return with a higher bid.
Lee Wild, head of equity strategy at Interactive Investor, said: ‘These numbers and a bullish plan for further aggressive growth in the current financial year are clearly presented to squeeze the maximum from potential buyers.’
Drama sold in 60 countries
Patrick Melrose has proved a runaway television success for Sky as the broadcaster increases its output of shows.
The drama based on novels by writer Edward St Aubyn, starring Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, is the firm’s fastest-selling programme ever.
It was snapped up in 60 countries before it aired, and was nominated for five Emmy awards.
The show follows Melrose, who had a privileged but traumatic childhood in the south of France, as he struggles with substance abuse during his twenties in New York and in Britain.
Each of the five episodes in the series was based on a different St Aubyn novel.
That helped Sky rake in more than £200million from selling its shows in the year to June 30.
The broadcaster is now boosting its content production budget to around £500m. Other successful Sky shows include Riviera, Jamestown and Britannia.
Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive, said: ‘Patrick Melrose is a great example of how our approach to originals is paying off for both customers and shareholders.’