MADRID — British pay TV operator BSkyB is studying a bid for Spanish pay TV platform Digital Plus.
The move, if it ever came, would reflect a determination at News Corp. for cash-healthy BSkyB to carry some of the financial burden of expanding News Corp.’s pay TV assets in Europe, the Financial Times reported Friday.
News Corp., which already owns Italy’s Sky Italia and 39% of BSkyB, paid Euros 287 million ($451 million) in early 2008 for an initial 14.6 % stake in Premiere, Germany’s lead pay TV operator. It raised its stake to 19.9% late February.
BSkyB has the muscle to buy Digital Plus. Whether it has the stomach is another question.
Seeking to scythe a $6.3 billion debt load, Spain’s Grupo Prisa is expected to ask around $6 billion for Digital Plus, when it puts it on the market from this fall.
“Owning Digital Plus would put News Corp. is an even stronger position to negotiate content deals, and expertise from its U.K. operation could be fed through to Spain,” an analyst said.
“But Digital Plus is still a better strategic fit for a telco,” he added.
Candidates to buy Digital Plus include Spain’s Telefonica and France Telecom-Orange, both of which could use it to power up their core triple play biz in Spain.
Digital Plus’ attractions for triple play operators include a 2.1 million client-base of wealthy fans of all things high-tech, Hollywood studio and soccer content deals, and its satellite reach that would complement telcos’ fiber optic network roll-outs.
Steve Clarke contributed to this story.