Channel also in talks with Telewest

LONDON — ITV Sport Channel has sealed a carriage deal with U.K. cable operator NTL, extending its reach to 3 million homes.

The channel, which launches Aug. 11, is also in negotiations with Telewest, Britain’s No. 2 cabler. There are no formal talks with satcaster BSkyB, parent of Sky Digital and the market leader in British pay TV.

The deal with NTL means access to 2 million households; that’s in addition to the 1.1 million subscribers who take ITV Digital (as the ONdigital platform has been rebranded).

ITV Sport Channel is the first premium sports service to launch in the U.K. in a decade, and it’s seen as key to turning around the fortunes of ITV Digital, co-owned by ITV companies Carlton and Granada.

The channel’s biggest asset is 40 exclusive matches per season of pan-European Champions League soccer. Including pay-per-view, it will offer 200 live soccer matches a year, twice as many as BSkyB.

BSkyB, however, holds rights to lucrative Premier League soccer.

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