Sky to cut hundreds of jobs in shift from satellite TV

Sky is set to cut hundreds of jobs across the UK as part of a strategic shift from satellite broadcasting to delivering television over the internet. 

The move follows sweeping job losses at broadband rivals such as BT, which this month said that up to 55,000 jobs, or 42 per cent of its workforce, would be axed by the end of the decade as part of cost-cutting efforts. Vodafone has also announced plans to cut 11,000 jobs over the next three years under new chief executive Margherita Della Valle. 

Sky informed many of the staff affected by the restructuring plans of its decision this week, although the exact number of job losses will depend on the outcome of consultations with unions and employees.

The cuts will affect some workers employed through third-party suppliers, including about 200 jobs in Northern Ireland.

People with knowledge of the negotiations with staff said the job losses would not be as extensive as those planned by rivals, but added that the numbers could be in the “high hundreds”. Sky employs about 32,000 people in the UK.

The media and telecoms group would also either redeploy or hire new staff in growing areas of its business, including film production, the people said. Sky Studios Elstree, a new film and TV studio, is set to open this year and is anticipated to create 2,000 jobs.

Job losses were expected to be concentrated in the more traditional areas of Sky’s business, according to people with knowledge of the plans.

Fewer engineers would be needed to fit satellite dishes as more people chose to watch TV over broadband. Some customer service roles in legacy areas were also expected to change. 

Since it was bought by Comcast in 2018 for £32bn, Sky has been diversifying away from satellite TV into areas such as streaming — aggregating services such as Netflix with its own channels — and the manufacture and sale of smart TVs. 

Streaming TV has also allowed Sky to offer different ways for consumers to watch. It struck a £935mn deal with the English Football League this month to broadcast more than 1,000 matches a season both on TV and through a new streaming app.

Since acquiring Sky, Comcast has had to write down the value of the business on its books, with many media analysts viewing the acquisition price as excessive for a business facing competition from big tech groups and domestic telecoms and broadcasting rivals. 

Sky was also considering what to do with its lossmaking German business, according to people close to the situation, with one option being a sale to or merger with the German group ProSiebenSat. 1 Media. Talks were not advanced on any such deal, they added.

Sky said: “In recent years we have revolutionised our TV offering — aggregating all the best apps, giving customers easy access to all the shows they love in one place; then launching our new TV platforms, Sky Glass and Sky Stream, as we shift to IP. These changes are transforming what we offer our customers.”

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