More than half a million customers have signed up to BT's sports coverage, the telecoms giant said today as it unveiled better-than-expected figures for the first half.
BT Sport is being launched in August as part of the company's plans to compete with Sky and boost revenues. The group hopes to break Sky's grip on armchair sports fans by enabling broadband customers to watch Premier League football for free.
It has secured the rights to 38 Premier League matches in the coming season, compared with Sky's 116.
BT's chief executive Ian Livingston said the subscriber numbers were promising.
"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," he said.
Figures today showed that BT's revenues dipped 1 per cent to £4.4 billion during the three months to the end of June, while adjusted pre-tax profits rose 5 per cent to £595 million. Analysts had expected a dip in earnings because of the costs associated with setting up the sport broadcasting business.
BT added another 95,000 retail broadband customers during the three months to the end of June, 12% stronger than the growth a year earlier, giving it 6.8 million customers.
Sky Sports does not reveal how many subscribers it has, but it is widely believed to be in the millions.
BT's sports offering are partly designed to prevent customers from defecting to Sky and taking their broadband and telephone accounts with them.
Looking at the near-term future, BT asserted that the first quarter results positioned it well for the full year, for which its outlook is unchanged.
For more information on BT, see the latest research: BT Group
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