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BSkyB Pours $403 Million into Net Properties

British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB) Wednesday released its earnings statement along with news that the company will invest £250 million ($403 million) into two sites.

Tony Ball, chief executive of BSkyB (BSY), said that the investment aims to make skysports.com the top sports portal, as well as developing sky.com for branding and content purposes. The funds will be dispersed over the next 12 to 18 months.

BSkyB plans to combine its online content investment with unspecified new initiatives and investments, in the goal of creating cross-platform portals.

The newly digital TV player Wednesday also made an investment in UK e-tailer Streets OnLine and interactive television developer Static, though financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The company also formed a string of alliances in the region to bolster its new focus. BSkyB created a joint venture with Kingston Communications for regional ADSL services, and is in talks with BT Cellnet to bring Sky content to WAP-enabled phones.

It also announced digital sales at 2.6 million and a new investment of £50 million in a digital services customer care center. The center, which will be operational in the next year, is also expected to support future growth of BSkyB's e-commerce activities. Sports content is expected to be a major area of investment.

Direct-to-home subscriptions for the service spiked to 3.9 million in the six-month period. More than 50 percent of these subscribers use the digital platform, the company said. Its interactive sports service, which debuted in August, has garnered 36 percent of the digital audience.

Though revenues were up 13 percent to £849 million, the overall performance was affected by ° million in costs which the company says were associated with the digital rollout. BSkyB said it was encouraged by the levels of demand for digital services and is anticipating increased subscriber growth on the next report.



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