The customer base for BT’s sports channels passed 2.5 million by the end of the group’s third quarter, helping drive revenue growth in its consumer division, according to CEO Gavin Patterson.
BT said that revenue from broadband and TV grew by 22% during the quarter, contributing to the consumer division’s revenue growth of 6%, its best performance in a number of years.
BT saw its pre-tax profit rise by 8% to £617 million on revenues of £4.6 billion (€5.6 billion).
Patterson indicated that BT’s investment in content rights is paying off, pointing to strong growth in the company’s high-speed broadband base, which the investment in BT Sport is designed to drive.
“Our strategic investments are delivering. It was another record quarter for fibre take-up and there are now more than 18 million premises with access to our fibre. That number will grow further as the BDUK programme progresses,” said Patterson. “Fibre helps SMEs to compete and underpins our TV plans. Our direct BT Sport customer base passed 2.5 million in the quarter and helped to support 6% revenue growth in our consumer business. 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.”
BT is paying about £300 million a year for its three-year deal to UEFA Champions League and Europa League football. However, the company’s strong performance appears to have allayed fears about the impact of the cost of its investment in sports rights, with shares rising on the results.