Telefonica wins new customers as Vodafone stops broadcasting soccer

MADRID, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Spain’s Telefonica gained 90,000 mobile clients in its domestic market in August, thanks to its bet on broadcasting soccer just as Britain’s Vodafone stopped buying the rights to key matches.

It is the first time that Telefonica has led the market in adding customers for broadband and mobile, according to Spanish regulator CNMC.

Telefonica and Orange both sweetened their offers during the summer to attract Vodafone’s 400,000 Spanish television subscribers who pay for football add-ons, but the French operator lost almost 11,000 mobile clients in August.

Bundled telecom offers, a popular package in Spain, usually consist of two mobile lines, broadband fixed line and television. This would indicate some 45,000 of Telefonica’s new subscribers signed up for the high-end service.

“We expect Telefonica to add around 150,000 broadband subscribers in the next 18 months with around 90 euros ARPU (average results per user)”, said Credit Suisse in a report in September. ARPU is a closely watched gauge of telecom companies’ profitability.

A hefty price tag of almost 4 billion euros ($4.55 billion) for the soccer rights put the company under pressure to attract enough new customers to justify the investment.

Spain’s fourth-biggest company by market capitalisation is fighting fierce competition in its home market, where it makes around a quarter of group sales, from cheaper rivals MasMovil and Orange’s Jazztel.

It has adopted a dual strategy after investing billions of euros in high-speed networks in Spain: aiming upmarket with its Movistar Fusion bundled package and towards lower-spending customers with the O2 brand it also sells in Britain.

Telefonica will announce its third-quarter results on Oct. 31. ($1 = 0.8791 euros) (Reporting by Andres Gonzalez, edited by Isla Binnie and Louise Heavens)