Sky picks up soccer rights

Pact is latest move in push for subs

MIAMI — Satcaster Sky Latin America has dished out $20 million to nab exclusive pay TV rights for Colombian league soccer through year-end 2000.

Deal marks the latest in a series of moves by Sky — led by News Corp., Televisa and Globo — to drive signups via soccer acquisitions, as it seeks to overtake Hughes-backed rival Galaxy in the Latino DTH stakes.

Earlier this year, Sky joined cabler Fox Sports Americas in a $56 million, five-year purchase of Chilean soccer, and Sky has also spent big on rights to Brazilian soccer.

The Colombian deal covers worldwide pay TV rights to six of the eight league games played per date but excludes terrestrial rights in Colombia.

There are 52 dates per season; Sky will start by beaming one match per week from Oct. 4, gradually increasing to six weekly games by 2000.

Already Sky is turning on the heat in Colombia, having this year signed up over 20,000 homes there compared with about half that for Galaxy, independent sources said.

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