BT revenues up on demand for broadband and sports TV

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BT's sales and profits have risen, driven by record broadband demand and its new sports television service.

The company reported pre-tax profits of £617m for the last three months of 2013, on revenues of £4.6bn.

BT has moved aggressively into the TV sport business, taking on rival BSkyB, and now has 2.5 million customers using the service.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said the profit figures proved "our strategic investments are delivering".

The company has been expanding its sports coverage, and in November beat the dominant pay-TV service BSkyB to the rights to show Champions League and Europa League matches for three seasons from 2015-16.

The group said in a statement that it saw a record quarter for fibre broadband demand, and now had 1.9 million customers taking the faster and more expensive service, out of its 7.1 million broadband customer base.

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With more people taking up superfast broadband, BT can offer a wider range of services.

BT said that strong demand for fibre broadband and sport had helped its consumer division grow revenues by 6% in the quarter, its best performance in a decade.

Meanwhile, the number of BT customers disconnecting lines was at 70,000, significantly down on the 173,000 who left BT a year ago.

"This is an encouraging set of results," said Mr Patterson. "Our strategic investments are delivering. It was another record quarter."

There had been worries over the financial impact of BT's recent sport deals after it spent almost £900m to secure the UK Champions League and Europa rights.

But investors appeared to be confident about the company's progress, sending BT's shares more than 3% higher by the close of trading on Friday.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "BT is a company firing on all cylinders, with extra propulsion coming in the form of its high profile entry into the TV sporting arena.

"Quite apart from the 2.5 million customers who have already signed up to BT Sport, broadband demand and a strong performance beyond the UK have combined to produce the impressive trinity of growth in revenues, earnings per share and profits."

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