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Take-up for Sky’s broadband packages and on-demand TV service held up strongly during the first quarter of the year, despite the slowdown in consumer spending.

According to Sky, the company’s home broadband subscriber base grew by 130,000 over the three-month period to March 31st. This represents a moderate decline from a figure of 163,000 during the fourth quarter of 2008.

However, against the backdrop of the economic downturn, the figures represent a strong performance for Sky, with the additions bringing its total number of broadband subscribers from 1,955,000 at the start of the year to its current total of 2,085,000.

The internet service provider (ISP) also enjoyed strong take up for its combined on-demand TV, home telephone and broadband packages. As a result, 15 per cent of its customers now take all three services from Sky. Demand for its television channels was believed to be have been driven principally to a price cut for the Sky+ HD service.

News of developments comes after Sky this year pulled out of a potential acquisition of Tiscali after the two parties were unable to agree a price. The negotiations marked the second time that Sky had mooted buying the rival ISP, having previously failed to reach an agreement in the last few months of 2008. Had the deal gone through, Sky would have become the third largest UK broadband provider, behind BT and Virgin Media.

Responding to the figures, chief executive Jeremy Darroch acknowledged that maintaining the strong performance this year would present problems but remained cautiously optimistic over the company’s fortunes.

He said: “Looking ahead to the rest of calendar 2009, we expect conditions to remain challenging. In this environment, and at a time when people are spending more time at home, we will continue to provide our customers great entertainment and moneysaving broadband and telephony.

“At the same time, we will stay focused on cost efficiency to allow us to invest sensibly in areas that drive long-term value for the business, such as high definition, with the objective of emerging stronger from the downturn."

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