• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

BT scores with sports channels

ALMOST £1 billion was added to the market value of BT as former chief executive Lord Livingston of Parkhead's bet on sports broadcasting showed signs of paying off for the telecoms giant with its first revenue growth since 2009.

BT yesterday revealed it had taken revenue of £4.6bn for the third quarter of its financial year to the end of December. This was up 2% on the £4.5bn posted for the same period last year and is the first increase in income in four-and-a-half years.

The last revenue rise came just before a massive profit warning by the company in early 2009.

The group also posted a third-quarter pre-tax profit of £722 million, up 8% on last year, and some £50m ahead of City expectations.

Chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "This is an encouraging set of results."

He added: "Our strategic investments are delivering."

Mr Patterson, who ran BT's retail business, became chief executive in September after Lord Livingston quit to become a peer and government minister.

After becoming BT's chief executive in 2008, Lord Livingston, who is also a director of Celtic football club, helped the company overcome a host of problems, notably at its global services division which provides information technology services to large companies.

He also surprised investors when, starting in 2012, he oversaw the purchase of rights to broadcast football games on both sides of the Border.

Shortly after his exit BT, cemented its position in territory hitherto dominated by BSkyB and the terrestrial broadcasters by winning the auction to show all European Champions League matches.

BT's investment, totalling £2bn in sporting rights, appears to be going down well with customers with BT recording a 6% rise in consumer revenue for the period, the best performance in more than a decade.

The number of users disconnecting lines was at 70,000, well down on the 173,000 who left BT a year ago.

BT Sport's direct customer base grew by around half a million to more than 2.5 million homes.

Most BT Sport users are broadband customers who receive it for free. But the service, which is fronted by Clare Balding and Jake Humphrey, generates revenue from some customers who want to watch in high definition, as well as pubs and clubs.

BT also plans to charge for watching Champions League games.

Mr Patterson said: "We achieved some particularly strong audience figures in December and the exclusive rights to the Uefa Champions League and Uefa Europa League that we have won will further strengthen the appeal of our proposition."

The group said it had enjoyed a record quarter for fibre demand, and had some 1.9 million customers taking the faster and more expensive service, out of its 7.1 million broadband customer base.

The strong performance enabled the group to lift its earnings outlook for the current financial year to the upper end of the £6bn to £6.1bn range it had guided the City to.

Richard Hunter, head of Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "BT is a company firing on all cylinders, with extra propulsion coming in the form of its high profile entry into the TV sporting arena."

BT's shares closed up 12.4p or 3.3% at 383.3p. This took the company's market worth from £29.3bn to £30.3bn.

Its shares have risen 54.6% in the last year.

BT's success weighed on rival BSkyB's shares, which finished down 2p or 0.2% at 876p.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

209692