Growth is one of those elusive things that every investor looks for, but few actually find. In the cost-crunched world that we live in, all too often the profits that companies make are also crunched.

So in this article I’ve picked three companies, each very different, that I think have realistic prospects for growth over the coming years. One is a pay-TV broadcaster, another is a rising star of the pharma industry, and the third is a growing housebuilder. These are my three growth plays.

Sky’s the limit

The broadcasting market in the UK is in the middle of a transformation. Whereas once it was dominated by free-to-air television from traditional terrestrial giants such as ITV and the BBC, now an ever greater market share is being taken up by pay-TV, through Sky (LSE: SKY), Virgin Media and BT. It’s no surprise that BT has relatively recently entered the fray, as this is one Britain’s fastest growing business sectors. But it’s still dominated by Sky.

Sky is adding services and ramping up the breadth and versatility of its pay-TV offer to keep its place as the leading pay-TV provider in the UK, Germany and Italy. And in all these countries, the number of subscribers is still growing. This is a hugely profitable company with great prospects.

While the increased competition provided by BT in the UK has meant that subscription prices have been rising, I still regard Sky as a strong buy.

Expanding Shire

Shire (LSE: SHP) is an emerging pharma giant that’s far less well known than its peers AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline, yet this is a company that’s worth £24bn. It specialises in producing a broad range of treatments for rare diseases and is effectively a cluster of start-up biotech firms that work together.

The share price has taken a tumble from the highs of last year, so this is the ideal time to grab a stake in this pharma giant. Despite the fall in the share price, this is still a company that analysts expect to grow further.

And the forecast 2016 P/E ratio is a very reasonable 14.44 that’s expected to fall to just 11.69 in 2017.

Taylor Wimpey

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LSE: TW.) has been benefitting as Britain’s housing market has boomed. Walk around London, or many other parts of Britain, and you’ll see property development after property development springing up.

Low mortgage rates, an increasing population and record levels of employment mean that property demand and prices will rise for some time to come. And that means profits on the up and a higher valuation for Taylor Wimpey too.

Yet the share price is off its highs, and a 2016 P/E ratio of 10.53, with a dividend yield expected to be as high as 6.11% means this company is attractively priced. This is a growth company that would be the perfect play on the growing housing market.

It's not often that you find a fast-growing share that's both consistent, and has momentum. Yet our experts at the Fool have unearthed an exciting find that's exactly that.

It's a well-known company with a brilliant track record and an impressive growth rate. And we at the Fool think that this is an excellent opportunity.

To find out more, click on this link to read A top growth share from the Motley Fool, and it will be sent instantly to you, free of charge and without obligation.

Prabhat Sakya has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Sky. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.