Business Irish

Thursday 18 January 2018

BT sales rise as customers anticipate new sports channels

Grant Best of BT Sport with soccer star Michael Owen, rugby star Austin Healey and Brian Quinn of Setanta Sport at the announcement of Setanta's new channel BT Sports
Grant Best of BT Sport with soccer star Michael Owen, rugby star Austin Healey and Brian Quinn of Setanta Sport at the announcement of Setanta's new channel BT Sports
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

SALES at BT Ireland rose 2pc between April and June as customers signed up in anticipation of its new sports channels.

The company, the second largest fixed-line provider in Ireland, saw growth across the entire island spurred by a new deal with Setanta Sports that will supply Irish customers with new channels BT Sport and ESPN.

Sales at the entire BT group were £4.45bn (€5.15bn) in the quarter, down from £4.5bn in the same period in 2012, attributed to UK regulator Ofcom's decision that the monopoly carrier must give other businesses access to its network at regulated prices that decline every year.

Regulation

Adjusted profit still jumped by 5pc to £595m, though £114m went towards once-off costs like a group-wide restructuring programme.

BT is making good progress "despite the impact of regulation and the significant investments we are making for the future," said outgoing chief executive Ian Livingstone.

"More than half-a-million households have now ordered BT Sport, and that's before the channels have even launched," he added.

The company is building up its TV and high-speed internet services to try and compensate for declining demand for fixed phone lines. The new sports channels, free to broadband subscribers, will cost the company money initially – requiring about £1bn in broadcasting rights alone over the next three years – but should boost subscriptions and customer loyalty.

They are seen as a threat to other pay-TV operators like UPC in Ireland and Sky in the UK. Sky's share price fell 6.2pc in May on the day the new channels were unveiled.

The 165-year-old company, which employs 3,000 people in Ireland, reiterated its full-year forecast. It expects earnings before interest, taxes, deductions and amortisation to be around £6bn to £6.1bn in 2013.

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