BT Group has today posted a better-than-expected 3% rise in full-year earnings.

It also raised its outlook for free cashflow after a strong finish to the year, when it added a record 455,000 fibre broadband customers. 

The UK broadband market leader, which is buying the country's biggest mobile network EE, reported core earnings of £6.27 billion compared to market expectations of £6.22 billion. 

Underlying revenue fell 2% to £17.85 billion in the year to the end of March, while adjusted pre-tax profit rose 12% to £3.17 billion. 

Of the fibre connections, some 266,000 were BT customers, while the remainder came from rivals such as Sky and TalkTalk, which wholesale capacity on BT's network. 

Like Sky, BT is using exclusive sports content to attract broadband customers, and its offer will include Champions League soccer later this year for the first time. 

It said it added 121,00 net new broadband customers - across both copper and superfast fibre - in the quarter, which it said was the seventh in a row it had outpaced Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin in broadband additions. 

BT retained it outlook for "modest growth" in core earnings this year, despite the impact of regulatory changes and the costs of buying more soccer rights, but said it would post free cashflow of about £2.8 billion, an upgrade on its previous £2.6 billion forecast.

In Ireland BT said its revenues grew by 2% to £635m in the period, when the impact of foreign exchange movements were excluded.

This came as it grew its share of the fixed line market by 17% year-on-year, on the back of deals with carriers including Carphone Warehouse and Sky Ireland.

“We’ve delivered a solid year of growth in revenues and profits in a very competitive sector,” said BT Ireland CEO Colm O’Neill. “Investments in network infrastructure, data centres and product development have underpinned this growth with BT increasingly becoming the partner of choice for multinational and large indigenous organisations requiring global connectivity and IT services.”