U.K.'s BSkyB Considers Resurrecting Network Targeting Men

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LONDON – U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB is considering launching a network targeting men with sports and entertainment content after shuttering a similar channel a few years ago.

The Guardian reported that the company, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, is looking to strike a carriage deal with U.K. cable giant Virgin Media, which is owned by John Malone's Liberty Global, to get the network distribution beyond BSkyB's homes.

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It wasn't immediately clear what content could air on the channel or what name it would have.

But The Guardian said Sky Bravo was one name under consideration. NBCUniversal's Bravo doesn't air in the U.K.

A few years ago, BSkyB acquired networks firm Living TV Group, but closed its male-skewing channel, Bravo, which aired such shows as Spartacus, Star Trek and Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Bravo 2. Back then, Bravo was seen as targeting an audience too similar to that of flagship network Sky 1, but the latter is nowadays more focused on broad-based family fare.

It appears that BSkyB's management, after recent channel re-launches, feels that it could do well with a network focusing on men. Its Sky Living is focusing on female viewers, Sky Arts targets arts and culture enthusiasts and Sky Atlantic focuses on fans of high-end drama, with such U.S. hit shows as Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.

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A new BSkyB male-targeted channel would compete with such British networks as ITV's ITV4 and UKTV's Dave, which have focused on men in recent years.

"There's never a shortage of ideas on things we could do in the future, and we're always looking at how we might develop our channels," said a BSkyB spokesman. "However, we have no firm plans at this stage."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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