BSkyB Sells Stake in Manchester United TV Network

UPDATED: The English soccer club said it wanted to have "full control of the content generating and distribution capabilities across all of its businesses."

LONDON - English soccer club Manchester United has bought out British pay TV giant BSkyB's 33.3 percent stake equity stake in its Manchester United Television network, better known as MUTV.

Financial terms weren't disclosed. The network and BSkyB have extended their carriage deal as part of the sale. It will be available on an a la carte basis to BSkyB subscribers. 

"We have sold our stake in MUTV to allow to Manchester United to take full control of the channel," a BSkyB spokesman said. "We are proud to have supported the channel’s launch and subsequent success.  MUTV will continue to be available to Sky customers and we look forward to continuing to have a close relationship with the channel."

“As part of the club's long-term digital media plans, Manchester United has made the strategic acquisition” to fully own the content production and distribution capabilities of the business, the club said Tuesday. “This latest acquisition is a natural progression and is indicative of the club’s desire to have full control of the content generating and distribution capabilities across all of its businesses.”

The channel was launched in 1998 as a joint venture with BSkyB and U.K. broadcaster ITV.  Manchester United bought out ITV’s one-third stake in Nov. 2007 and said it has since further expanded its TV capabilities.

MUTV is available in 57 countries around the world and offers exclusive interviews with members of the soccer team, documentaries, live studio shows, quiz segments and live matches featuring the club's youth teams. In the U.K. and Ireland markets, consumers can get it via subscription on satellite and cable TV. In the rest of the world, it is available via subscription or as programming blocks bought by TV networks.

“The acquisition of Sky’s stake is great news for all our fans who watch us around the globe, MUTV, its staff and the club,” said Manchester United commercial director Richard Arnold. “We look forward to continuing to enhance our media proposition and distribution capabilities in the years to come, and delivering some of the best and most compelling content to our 659 million followers.”

MUTV employs a staff of approximately 60. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB.


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