Game of Thrones helps push Sky's revenues past £3bn
The popularity of Game Of Thrones - which is part-filmed in Northern Ireland - has helped increase Sky's revenues and number of customers, according to the firm's latest results.
The broadcasting giant, currently the subject of an £11.7bn takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, added 160,000 new customers in the first quarter of the financial year - a rise of 51%.
The group said that fantasy drama Game Of Thrones was its "most-watched series ever" and also hailed home-grown series Riviera after it notched up 20 million downloads.
Chief executive Jeremy Darroch said investment in production was "delivering", with customer viewing to Sky pay channels up 10% year-on-year.
The group shrugged off pressure on consumer and advertising spending to post a 5% rise in revenues to £3.3bn for the quarter, while underlying earnings also jumped 11% higher to £582m.
Mr Darroch said: "We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth as investments we've made come through.
"Looking ahead, despite the uncertainty in the broader consumer environment, we remain on track with our plans and enter the busy second-quarter trading period focused on delivering our clear strategy for growth."
The update came as Sky chairman James Murdoch faced shareholders amid unrest over his independence and concerns on pay plans for top bosses.
Mr Murdoch is chief executive of Fox, which is attempting to seize control of the 61% of Sky it does not already own.
Shareholder advisory groups including Institutional Shareholder Services, Glass Lewis and Pirc have called on investors to vote against his re-election at Sky's annual general meeting and also to rebel against what they claim are potentially "excessive" pay plans.
Sky confirmed in its annual report last month that chief executive Jeremy Darroch's total annual pay packet more than trebled to £16.3m.