U.K. Telecom Firm BT Posts Slower Pay TV Sub Growth in Latest Quarter

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The company added 21,000 customers for its BT Vision service, which hopes to regain momentum when it starts showing English soccer games next year.


LONDON - U.K. telecom giant BT added 21,000 subscribers for its pay TV service BT Vision in its first fiscal quarter, which ended in June, down from the previous quarter and the year-ago period. 


The company said that brought its total BT Vision subscriber base as of mid-year to 728,000, but it was the firm's smallest user gain in two year. 


The firm had added 28,000 BT Vision customers in the previous quarter and more than 25.000 in the year-ago period. 


BT CEO Ian Livingston told an earnings conference call that subscriber growth should pick up with a soccer network that the company plans to launch in 2013. BT recently secured the broadcast rights to 38 live games from the English Premier League, including 18 top matches for the 2013/14-2015/16 seasons, becoming the first pay TV player to challenge satellite TV giant BSkyB, which airs most games of the English league.


"BT Vision is continuing to show solid growth," Livingstone said. Details on the soccer channel will be announced "much more nearer the event than in advance," he said. 


Broadband sub growth also slowed to 85,000, its lowest gain since the second half of 2009. 

Overall, BT reported quarterly revenue of £4.48 billion ($6.93 billion), down 6 percent, with management citing a weak economy. But pre-tax profits rose 8 percent to £578 million ($894 million) thanks to cost cuts.


The company's quarterly financials included a £27 million ($42 million) deposit that BT made for the EPL rights. 


BT's investment in the soccer rights is expected to reduce its adjusted earnings by around £100 million ($155 million) in 2014, the company said.




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