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Football deal helps boost BT broadband numbers

PUBLISHED: 11:37 31 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:37 31 January 2014

A general view of the head office of BT, the BT Centre, in Newgate Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

A general view of the head office of BT, the BT Centre, in Newgate Street, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 5, 2013. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

BT claimed another victory in the battle for broadband as its new sports channels helped spur a further surge in take-up and drove the best growth in consumer revenues for a decade.

The group said it added 150,000 broadband customers in the quarter, with many lured in by a package including 38 top-flight football matches a season on its TV service, which has notched up more than 2.5 million customers since last August.

Although the pace of growth slowed on the 156,000 seen the previous three months, it was still 23% higher than a year earlier and beat the 110,000 broadband customers reported by rival BSkyB yesterday.

BT said the performance helped consumer revenues rise by 6% - the best for 10 years - while it also saw the group return to overall quarterly revenue growth for the first time in four and a half years, up 2% to £4.6 billion.

Underlying pre-tax profits rose by a better-than-expected 8% to £722 million and BT upped its full-year earnings guidance as it said cost-cutting efforts were offsetting its hefty BT Sport outlays.

There have been fears over the financial impact of BT’s recent sport deals after it forked out almost £900 million in November to secure the UK rights to show Champions League and Europa League matches, which followed hot on the heels of its £738 million deal for 38 live Premier League matches.

But BT said today progress on cost savings would now see underlying annual earnings come in towards the top of the expected range of between £6 billion to £6.1 billion.

BSkyB fought back yesterday having been left reeling recently after losing out on the key football rights to BT, hailing “explosive growth” for its on-demand TV service and announcing a new five-year deal for the exclusive rights to the entire HBO TV catalogue, which includes top US shows such as Girls and Game Of Thrones.

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