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 &#176 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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