UK's TalkTalk raises full-year forecast for TV customers

LONDON Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:38pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's TalkTalk Telecom Group signed up 167,000 new customers for its TV service in the three months to end-September, it said on Tuesday, putting it on track to have nearly a million viewers and raising its revenue growth forecast to at least 3 percent for the year ending next March.

The company, which now offers a "quad play" of broadband, fixed line and mobile telecoms and TV, also said it had 5,000 net additions to its broadband service in the quarter, when its bigger rivals BT and BSkyB spent heavily on marketing around their sports programming.

Chief Executive Dido Harding said the fight between BT and Sky for sports fans had not hurt demand for TalkTalk's lower-priced 'value' packages, which offer digital channels, catch-up TV, pay channels and on-demand programming.

"There's a very clear market for people who don't want to pay a premium for sports, people who are using Freeview today, who are looking for a little bit more telly," she said in an interview on Tuesday.

"We are the fastest-growing TV service in the UK. We added more TV customers in the last quarter than Sky, Virgin and BT put together and we've done that for the last three quarters."

She said broadband churn spiked when BT started offering Premier League football but it had decreased and she expected it would continue to come down.

Broadband churn - a measure of customers switching providers - on TalkTalk's own network rose to 1.7 percent from 1.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Shares in TalkTalk were trading up 8 percent at 270.2 pence by 0933 GMT, one of the top risers on the mid-cap index.

Analysts at Citi said the group's first-half revenue of 843 million pounds ($1.35 billion), up 1.8 percent, was broadly in line with forecasts. Core earnings of 76 million pounds, nearly half the 147 million level of a year ago because of the investment in TV products, were slightly ahead of consensus.

The highlight was the company raising its revenue growth forecast to at least 3 percent from a previous 2 percent, reflecting price rises in October and confidence in its TV momentum, they said.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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