Telecoms giant BT on target as sports service helps to attract customers

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BT’s first season showing Premier League football helped it to a better-than-expected annual profits boost, as it increased consumer revenues for the first time in a decade.

The telecoms giant, which paid £738m last year to show 38 games a season for three years, also said it had added 170,000 retail broadband customers in the first three months of this year.

Adjusted profits before tax were up by a better-than-expected nine per cent to £901m for the year to March 31, while underlying revenues across the group grew by 0.5 per cent.

Revenues from the consumer arm, which includes the home telephone business as well as broadband packages with free access to BT’s sports channels, grew by four per cent to £4.02bn.

For the fourth quarter they were up nine per cent to £1.07bn, driven by 24 per cent growth from the broadband and BT’s TV platform.

BT has 6,300 staff working in Yorkshire and the Humber. One in every six employees working in the region’s IT and communications sector is employed by the company.

Chief executive Gavin Patterson, unveiling his first set of annual results as BT boss, announced a 15 per cent hike in the group’s full-year dividend and said this was now expected to increase by 10-15 per cent in each of the next two years.

He said: “We have made strong progress this year.”