BT revenue drops as sports suspended during pandemic

BT said it has taken a big hit from the Covid-19 crisis as the money it made from its sports wing reduced.

With very little sport to put on TV, pubs, clubs and private viewers stopped using BT Sport to the same extent, hitting revenues, the telecoms giant said.

Partly as a result of that, overall revenue dropped 7% to just over £5.2 billion in the first quarter. Profit before tax also took a hit, down 13% to £561 million.

BT has given a discount to pubs and clubs on its BT Sport packages, and offered unlimited data to NHS workers who get their mobile plans through EE.

An increase in digital transitions helped mitigate some of the effect of closing BT’s shops up and down the country.

The company said that complaints about its broadband dropped by 44% compared to the same period last year, hitting an all-time low.

Chief executive Philip Jansen said: “Despite Covid-19, BT delivered a strong operating performance in the first quarter and delivered a relatively resilient set of financial results.

“We continue to invest in the long-term future of the business. We continued to support our customers and colleagues through the crisis, including offering NHS workers on EE unlimited mobile data, and discounts for pubs and clubs on BT Sport until the end of the year.

“Although uncertainties remain, we are now able to provide an outlook for this financial year. Despite our strong operational performance in the first three months of the year, it is clear that Covid-19 will continue to impact our business as the full economic consequences unfold.”

BT expects adjusted revenue to drop between 5% and 6% across the 2020/21 financial year.

The company said that the £500 million it had already set aside to deal with the controversy over Huawei will cover the new Government policy requiring companies to remove the Chinese telecoms giant’s equipment from 5G networks by the end of 2027.

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