Belfast Telegraph

BT Ireland scores 47% rise in viewers with sports deal

By Audrey Watson

Northern Ireland's love of sport has helped BT Ireland revenue rise by 14% year-on-year during the second quarter to the end of September.

Earlier this year, following the launch of the BT Sport Europe channel, the telecoms operator struck a major blow against its main sports television rival Sky Sports by negotiating exclusive coverage of all live UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football matches.

BT paid £897m to show the games for three years and the deal has resulted in a viewing figure rise of 47% year-on-year for BT Sport Europe.

The company also announced that it had signed a record 106,000 new BT TV customers in the three months from June to September 2015, and added 10,000 new fibre broadband connections bringing the number of homes and business in Northern Ireland enjoying fibre broadband to more than 225,000.

The extra viewers helped lift adjusted pre-tax profits in the six months to the end of September by 5% to £1.4bn compared to a year ago.

BT's mobile base now stands at 200,000 UK customers since it re-entered the mobile phone market earlier in 2015.

Chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "We've seen good demand for BT Sport Europe and this has helped us add a record number of BT TV customers in the quarter. Mobile is another growth area and I am pleased our consumer customer base now stands at more than 200,000.

"And I am also pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority provisionally approved our planned acquisition of EE, unconditionally without remedies."

Also during the quarter to September 2015, BT Ireland clinched a number of major contracts including a 10-year deal to provide secure data centre facilities for the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) as part of a strategic project to establish a shared Northern Ireland public sector data centre.

On the jobs front, the company created 35 new positions at its BT Flex centre in Belfast and is recruiting 20 new apprentices at its Londonderry-based contact centre.

Colm O' Neill, chief executive of BT in Ireland, said: "The economic and social impact of our next generation fibre rollout continues to be seen across Northern Ireland, particularly in rural locations and we now have more than 93% of homes and businesses connected to a fibre enabled cabinet.

"Our business division delivered a strong half year with major wins across both the public and private sectors, and we are seeing positive results from the launch of our cloud-enabled services and business-led products such as BT One Phone, BT Mobile and BT Wifi."

Free with BT TV and from £5 per month with BT Broadband. Channels include BT Sport Europe, BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. Currently, customers can watch 38 live Premier League games per season along with the FA Cup, the Europa League, Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Major League Soccer, Ligue 1 and the Scottish Premier League.

From £25.50 per month. Channels include Sky Sports News HQ, Sky Sports 5 and Sky Sports F1. Sky also offers a 'Pass', which offers events without a contract. Sky Sports shows 116 live Premier League games per season along with La Liga, npower football league, Capital One Cup, home internationals, World Cup qualifiers and Euro 2016.

Belfast Telegraph