BT snaps up sports customers to boost

The improving results have followed a tough cost-cutting drive imposed by Livingston, which enabled him to steer the group through the economic downturn by raising profits and the dividend while still investing in the superfast network and sports rights.
“I am immensely proud to have led BT over the last five years,” Livingston said. “The foundations are in place for an exciting future and I’m confident that BT will make even more progress under Gavin’s leadership and our talented team.”
Livingston, who is going to work for the government, will be replaced by the head of retail, Gavin Patterson.
The launch of BT Sport at the start of August is designed to increase customer loyalty and the amount consumers are willing to pay, while reducing the amount of subscribers who defect to take their broadband and telephony from rival BSkyB (LSE: BSY.L – news ) .
The group’s consumer line loss was at its lowest level in five years and it took a 50 percent share on new broadband additions to the market.
The results underlined the changes made by the outgoing CEO, with costs down and investment focused on a new fibre network and a TV service to try to return the group to revenue growth after a four-year downturn.
“BT continues to make good progress, delivering another quarter of solid growth in underlying profit before tax,” Livingston said. “This is despite the impact of regulation and the significant investments we are making for the future.
“It is early days but we are very pleased with the strong start in BT Sport. More than half a million households have now ordered BT Sport and that’s before the channels have even launched.”
For the first quarter, revenue was down a better-than-expected 1 percent to 4.5 billion pounds ($6.9 billion), with core earnings also down 1 percent. Adjusted profit before tax however was up by 5 percent and comfortably ahead of consensus due to the strong performance by the retail division.
More than half a million customers have signed up to take BT (LSE: BT-AL – news) ‘s new sports service, the group said on Thursday, as it reported a final set of results under Ian Livingston to cap off his five years at the helm.
The 167-year-old former state monopoly, which was brought down in 2008 and 2009 by a series of profit warnings, posted first quarter profits comfortably ahead of forecasts driven by heavy cost cuts and a good performance from the retail division.