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BT claims advances in football duel

BT claimed its Premier League offering was helping it win its battle with Sky today as it grew broadband and TV revenues by a quarter.

The telecoms giant said it added a net 104,000 broadband customers in the three months to the end of June, marking a fourth successive period in which it outperformed its rival on this measure.

BT is about to begin its second season of a £738 million deal to screen 38 top-flight games a year for three years, muscling in on Sky's dominance of top-flight football. It has also paid £897 million for a three-year Champions League deal from 2015.

The telecoms giant said its TV sport offering had helped it to grow revenues in its consumer division, which were up 10% to £1.04 billion compared with the same period last year, while broadband and TV revenues rose 26%.

Operating costs for the consumer division increased by 12% to £808 million due to the costs of the sports offering.

BT moved into football coverage last year as part of a strategy to shore up its position in broadband, offering the TV access for free as part of a package for customers taking its internet and telephone services.

Today it said sport had helped it notch up four successive quarters in which it had added more broadband customers than BSkyB - which recorded 50,000 over the same period. Another rival, TalkTalk, added 10,000.

BT said this reversed an earlier period in which Sky had been beating it on this measure for seven quarters in a row.

Meanwhile the company said adjusted pre-tax profits rose 7% to £638 million while underlying revenues improved by 0.5%. Shares rose 1%.

However, growth in customers for its own TV platform slowed to 40,000 - not including 35,000 inactive set-top box users who were removed from the numbers.

It is the third quarter in a row this growth has been falling, though the number is better than the 23,000 recorded in the same period last year.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "We have made a good start to the year. We are building on solid foundations and I am confident we will deliver on our strategy."

BT also said the roll-out of its fibre network, which can be used by it and other internet providers, had reached more than 20 million premises.

The group took the number of its own high-speed fibre broadband customers to more than 2.3 million, it said.

Earlier this month, BT took its first big step back into the mobile phone market as it launched a new business service aimed at delivering fixed line and mobile calls to the same handset.

It plans to launch a mobile offering for the wider public by the end of the financial year.


From Belfast Telegraph