BT adds to TV base in disappointing quarter

BT SportBT added 11,000 TV customers to its TV base in the first three months of this year, taking its overall TV base to 1.7 million in a quarter that was generally disappointing for the UK telco.

The company highlighted the continued strength of its sports offering in a quarter that saw it secure Champions League and Europa League football for a further three years, with a promise to extend its Champions League coverage, and noted that BT Sport’s average annual audience figures increased 12% excluding Showcase and digital channels.

The company also said that its new YouView user interface was now in 1.3 million homes.

BT added 29,000 retail broadband customers this quarter, representing 35% of the DSL and fibre broadband market net additions.

BT Consumer performed relatively well, with revenue for its final fiscal quarter up by 4%, boosted by TV and broadband, which saw a 7% increase. Consumer revenue for the quarter was £1.195 billion.

Consumer EBITDA was down 18% however. Content costs contributed to this, with a 12% increase in operating costs partly due to the operator’s new Premier League contract.

Some analysts believe that the UK multiplay market in general is facing challenges and that BT will not be immune from these as competition for subscribers intensifies.

“Latest results from rivals underline the competitive nature of the UK multiplay market and the headwinds’ that lie ahead. Moving forward BT must focus efforts on other content areas to make a serious move on its main competitor, Sky. This may involve decoupling its TV service from BT broadband. And it still needs to make some decisions as to the future viability of managing two competing but significantly overlapping lines of businesses, BT Consumer and EE,” said Paolo Pescatore, VP of multiplay and media at analyst outfit CCS Insight.

BT’s overall revenue for the quarter was £6.122 billion, up 10% but down 0.9% when adjusted for the acquisition of EE. Adjusted EBITDA was £2.069 billion, up 2%.

BT CEO Gavin Patterson admitted the past year had been “challenging” with “headwinds in the UK public sector and international corporate markets” as well as a scandal in Italy, and a fine from Ofcom over Openreach’s activities.

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