U.K. Telecom Giant BT Adds 23,000 Pay TV Subs in Latest Quarter

The company, which is increasingly competing with BSkyB, said more than 500,000 homes have ordered BT Sport, its new sports channels set to launch next week.

LONDON – British telecom giant BT Group said Thursday that it added 23,000 pay TV subscribers in its fiscal first quarter that ended on June 30.

That was down from 40,000 subscriber additions in the previous quarter, but slightly above the 21,000 gains in the year-ago period. BT had a total of 833,000 pay TV users as of mid-year.

Fellow telecom provider TalkTalk, meanwhile, added 160,000 TV subscribers in the latest quarter, ending it with 390,000.

BT has increasingly competed with U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake.

BT on Thursday said that more than 500,000 homes have now ordered BT Sport, its sports channels that will launch next week. They will feature English Premier League soccer games, rugby and other sports.

The new sports channels will initially lose money, but BT is betting they will boost its number of pay TV subscribers.

"It is early, but we are very pleased with the strong start in BT Sport," outgoing BT CEO Ian Livingston said.

BT's fiscal first-quarter profit came in above analysts' estimates. Adjusted profit before tax came in at $912 million (595 million pounds), up 5 percent over the year-ago period. Revenue declined 1 percent to $6.82 billion (4.45 billion pounds) from 4.5 billion pounds a year earlier.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai