Sport and TV bright spots for underwhelming BT; Sky deal delivery “very close”

Philip Jansen

Sport and TV has proved a positive for BT in a quarter that was “slightly below” expectations, said CEO Phillip Jansen.

Overall, the broadcaster reported a 3% decline in revenue and 4% fall in core earnings. For the quarter, revenue fell to £5.78bn from £5.98 billion, with EBITDA declined to £1.98 billion from £2.06 billion. BT’s consumer business, which encompasses fixed line and TV was at £2.70 billion, compared to £2.76 billion this time last year.

In terms of TV, Jansen commented on the company’s partnership deal with Sky which had been consistently delayed since being announced in 2017.

The deal is an extended and expanded partnership for the cross-supply of content. This includes Sky customers being able to purchase BT Sport via their Sky subscription directly (as opposed to the current system whereby customers must contact BT directly); BT customers being able to view and record via NowTV; and BT Sport launching as an app on NowTV.

The deal was originally meant to be implemented for the start of the 2019/20 season but this was indefinitely postponed.

Speaking on the company’s earnings call, Jansen said that the delays were to do with “complicated IT technology between both us and Sky.” He insisted that there’s “no other reason” and that the companies are “working really well together.”

Jansen added: “It’s just on the stack of stuff, on the pipeline. It got delayed because it’s, as ever, a little bit more complicated than we thought.”

He said that the deal is “a significant move,” and that it would prove to create a “very much more powerful TV proposition, which is great for our customers.”

Marc Allera, BT’s consumer CEO added that “it’s very close now.”

Despite the worse-than-expected overall results, Jansen said “we remain on track to meet our outlook for the full year.”

Writing to investors, the CEO said: “We continue to invest in the business. During the quarter we launched Halo, the UK’s ultimate converged plan, which will give homes and businesses the best connection and service. We’ve continued to use our national scale and local presence across the UK to provide customers with the best possible experience, for example by meeting our promise to answer all customer calls in the UK and Ireland and bringing BT sales and service back to the high street in nearly 500 BT/EE stores.”

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