BT Sport racks up two million customers
Joseph O'Halloran | 31-10-2013
Despite being mocked by rivals for its lack of compelling fixtures in its core football bouquet, BT Sport has claimed two million subscribers in its first three months of operation.
In a three-year deal worth around £246 million per season, BT Sport has rights to show 38 exclusively live football matches from the Barclays English Premier League, including 18 of the “top picks” from August 2013 for three seasons. The channel also broadcasts football from the FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and from leagues in Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Australia and the USA.
As the channel’s parent company released its results for the second quarter and half year ended 30 September 2013, the telco revealed that BT Sport had a positive impact on its line, broadband and TV customer numbers in the quarter.
BT posted a consumer revenue increase of 4% year-on-year, what it called “a significant improvement” compared with the first quarter, driven by 17% growth in broadband and TV revenue following the launch of BT Sport in August 2013.
In addition to signing up more than two million BT Sport retail customers — which include customers watching via satellite, the BT TV IPTV service, online and via the product’s app — BT added 156,000 retail broadband customers, representing 93% of the DSL and fibre broadband market net additions, taking its broadband customer base to around seven million.
It also added during the quarter 70,000 TV customers taking the base to over 900,000 and in the quarter also signed a contract with Liberty Global-owned cable company Virgin Media to increase the reach of BT Sport to around four million UK households. BT also captured 195,000 retail fibre broadband customers in the three-month period to total around 1.7 million.
Driving this high-margin line of business is said to be the real reason for the investment in sports content. Yet even though the company was pleased with the subscriber additions, BT noted during the quarter its underlying operating costs excluding transit were up 1% as the efficiencies from cost transformation programmes were more than offset by an investment of around £140 million in BT Sport.
Commenting on quarterly results for the first time since taking on his new role, BT CEO Gavin Patterson said: “This has been our strongest ever quarter for fibre take-up with Openreach net connections up 70%. Our fibre network now passes more than 17 million premises … BT Sport has made a confident start and is already delivering for viewers. More than two million of our customers are signed up to it and our wholesale contract with Virgin Media means it is available to around four million homes in total. It is also delivering for the business, helping us achieve a record 93% share of broadband net adds in the quarter, our lowest line losses for five years, and 4% revenue growth in our BT Retail Consumer business … These are exciting times for the company and we are determined to deliver our strategy with energy and discipline.”