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BT Sport boosts broadcast business

Broadband and TV revenue saw a seven per cent increase, and the BT Sport channel saw a 51 per cent increase in average daily audience figures

BT has released its financial results for the quarter to 30 June, and although group-wide sales were down two per cent at £4.2 billion, the telecoms giant painted a rosy picture for the future, highlighting an increased uptake of superfast fibre broadband, the impending acquisition of EE and the launch of BT Sport Europe.

Key results included: underlying revenue excluding transit was flat, an improvement on the 1.3 per cent decline last quarter; underlying operating costs excluding transit down 1 per cent; and EBITDA up one per cent and earnings per share up three per cent.

BT’s superfast fibre broadband network now reaches around 80 per cent of all UK premises, with the aim of reaching 95 per cent of the country by 2017. The acquisition of mobile network operator EE will, said chief exec Gavin Patterson, “allow us to create a true UK digital champion, providing customers with greater choice and value and helping to deliver the UK’s connected future.”

Broadband and TV revenue saw a seven per cent increase, and the BT Sport channel saw a 51 per cent increase in average daily audience figures. This is likely to help BT’s growth, as in the quarter the group announced that all 351 matches in the coming season from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League will be free for customers who take BT TV. The BT Sport Pack launches on 1 August for an additional £5 a month for most broadband customers. The channel will show all 38 live Barclays Premier League matches as well as the Aviva Premiership and Scottish Professional Football League. August will also see the launch of BT Sport Ultra HD, “the first live sports channel in Europe offering picture quality four times that of normal high definition”, according to Patterson.

BT TV’s customer base reached 1.2 million in the quarter, with the addition of 60,000 new takers – the best performance since the launch of BT Sport. This quarter BT also announced the UK launch of the AMC channel from the US network, which has featured dramas like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. BT will also partner with HBO Home Entertainment to offer BT TV customers the chance to download-to-own programmes, including Game of Thrones.

Operating costs increased one per cent. EBITDA was up seven per cent reflecting a strong performance across voice and broadband. BT expects EBITDA to decline in the second quarter reflecting costs relating to the launch of BT Sport Europe. Depreciation and amortisation decreased nine per cent and operating profit was up 11 per cent.

“This is an exciting time at BT”, commented Patterson, concluding: “The investments we are making in our business and customer service are building a strong platform for growth. And our financial results show we’re on track to achieve our outlook for the full year.”