Game of Thrones leads to record Sky audience

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He said the first series of Sky's home-grown drama Riviera achieved 20 million downloads, while Game of Thrones had become the most watched series ever on Sky.

However, this was an improvement on a year ago, when more than 50% opposed Mr Murdoch's reappointment.

European pay-TV giant Sky, facing a possible takeover by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, announced Thursday a surge in subscribers on keen demand for cult United States series Game of Thrones.

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, said that the good revenue growth and excellent profit growth was achieved against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on United Kingdom television advertising.

The update comes as Sky chairman James Murdoch faces shareholders on Thursday amid investor unrest over his independence and concerns on pay plans for top bosses.

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Sky added 160,000 new customers, up 51pc from the same period a year ago.

Some shareholder advisory groups had called on investors to vote against Mr Murdoch's reappointment on the grounds that he is also chief executive of 21st Century Fox.

"We've had a strong start to our new financial year with good revenue growth and excellent profit growth", said chief executive Jeremy Darroch.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said earlier this week that it would investigate issues of media plurality surrounding the deal.

The results were announced against the backdrop of a bid from Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox to buy the remaining 61% of Sky it does not already own.

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Mr Darroch said it was a strong start to the new financial year: "Against the backdrop of pressure on consumer spending and lower spend on United Kingdom television advertising, we were particularly pleased with our own EBITDA growth of 15% in our established business".

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley sent the £11.7bn ($15.4bn) deal to the CMA for review last month following the conclusion of a three-month inquiry by Ofcom.

The CMA is required to report to Bradley with its recommendations within six months of opening the investigation, after which the culture secretary will decide on whether or not the takeover can proceed.

Ms Bradley said today that the final decision on the deal would be based on evidence and not "personal emotion or feelings".

Ms White gave evidence to the committee on Tuesday when she told MPs the regulator found "extremely disturbing" behaviour at Fox News when looking at the bid.

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