BSkyB expands services, hikes prices

Packages to launch Sept. 1

LONDON — BSkyB, Europe’s biggest pay TV operation, is launching more targeted packages, including broadband and mobile offers aimed at premium tier subscribers as it faces competition from digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview and video-on-demand services.

Beginning Sept. 1, premium subscribers — around half of Sky’s customers — will pay £42.50 ($76.50) instead of $73.80 for the enhanced service, which includes broadband-delivered movies and sports, as well as news and sports sent directly to cell phones.

Around 200 movies will be available. There are no plans to make the broadband service available as a standalone, but the cell-phone offering will be rolled out alone to subs in the future for an undisclosed price.

BSkyB is raising the price of its basic package from $24.30 to $27 a month.

Auds will be able to select a minimum of two and a maximum of six packages from the following: Variety, Kids, Knowledge, Style and Culture, Music, and News and Events.

“We are making it easier for subscribers to choose what they want to buy,” said a BSkyB spokesman.

“Empty nesters who are not interested in subscribing to kids and music channels will now be able to exclude them from their package and instead buy, say, Style and Culture, and Music and Events.”

Wednesday’s announcement follows Sky’s decision to assume full ownership of cultural showcase the Artsworld channel and make the service more widely available to lure more middle-class subscribers.

Sky is buying out Artsworld’s stockholders, including founder Jeremy Isaacs, former topper of Channel 4 and the Royal Opera House.

BSkyB has some 7.7 million subscribers, but its stock price is languishing amid fears that it is not making enough headway in an increasingly competitive market.

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