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Optus profit falls despite lure of EPL

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Lilly Vitorovich

Optus lured a record number of mobile customers as its exclusive coverage of the English Premier League kicked off, but the steep cost of its new sports channels continue to weigh on the telco's profit.

The company added 107,000 postpaid handset customers in the three months to September 30, citing its "suite of entertainment content", including the EPL and data-free TV, music and movies, as a key driver.

Chief executive Allen Lew said the customer growth, which takes its total mobile base to 9.42 million, is proof that its multiple product offer strategy is working.

"This is our strongest indicator yet that Optus, with its improving mobile network and our compelling suite of entertainment content, is increasingly front of mind with Australian consumers," he told reporters.

Mr Lew declined to provide specific customer figures for its EPL package, but said they have watched more than 6.5 million hours of content since the start of the season 13 weeks ago.

"We are seeing steady audience growth," he said.

The country's second biggest telco forked out $189 million for the Australian broadcast and digital EPL rights for the next three seasons as part of its strategy to set itself apart from rivals Telstra and Vodafone.

Optus' net profit in the six months to September 30 dropped 16 per cent to $356 million, and its second quarter profit was harder hit, down 20 per cent to $184 million.

It said regulatory changes that have slashed what mobile operators can charge each other to connect customers has hit its revenue and earnings.

Those changes, and increased competition in the mobile market, are expected to lower mobile service revenue by a "mid-teens" number over the full 2016/17 year, Optus said.

At the end of September, the telco had 164,000 broadband customers on the national broadband network, more than double from a year earlier.

Optus, which is owned by Singapore Telecommunications, now has a total of 1.11 million broadband customers.

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