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Demand for BT Sports TV helps lift results

BT reported second-quarter trading ahead of forecasts on Thursday, driven by strong demand for broadband and sports TV, in an endorsement of the group's new strategy.

The 168-year-old former state telecoms monopoly, revealing the impact of its drive to offer sports channels as an incentive to take broadband from BT, said consumer revenue was up 4 percent, its best performance in 10 years.

"You can see in our numbers, we have made a very confident start," Gavin Patterson, reporting his first numbers since being promoted to chief executive in September, told CNBC . "In 13 weeks we've got 4 million customers. We're getting a really good audience share as well."

"It's a very strong offer for existing subscribers but it's also attracting new customers as well."

(Watch: Clash of the Titans: BT takes on Sky in sport )

Group revenue was flat - the first time it has not contracted in more than four years - while adjusted profit before tax, up 2 pct to 609 million pounds, was ahead of forecasts.

BT stunned the sporting world in 2012 when it agreed to pay 246 million pounds ($382 million) per season to show 38 live soccer matches, putting it up against the dominant pay-TV group BSkyB which has the rights to 116 games per season.

The move was designed to help BT defend its core broadband business, with the group offering new sports channels for free to its existing broadband customers who renew their contracts or to those who signed up as new customers for BT broadband.

In broadband, its BT Retail unit took 93 percent of all new lines that were switched on across the BT network, which also provides lines on a wholesale basis to other operators such as BSkyB and TalkTalk.

The group also added a record 316,000 homes and businesses on to its fiber network.

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