U.K. Pay TV Company BSkyB, Telco Vodafone Mull Alliance: Reports

BSkyB, Vodafone bid to combat telco giant BT's growing ambitions

LONDON — U.K. pay TV company BSkyB and cell-phone operator Vodafone are mulling a broadband alliance, according to press reports. The move would help them combat the growing ambitions of telco BT, which has been ramping up its broadband and pay TV operations in Britain.

Vodafone and BSkyB have been in talks about giving Vodafone’s customers access to BSkyB’s sports and movie channels, and working together on a high-speed broadband service, the Sunday Times reported, citing senior sources.

The operations of BSkyB, Vodafone and BT increasingly overlap as BSkyB steps up its broadband offer, Vodafone rolls out its ultrafast 4G services, offerings its mobile customers access to sports and music entertainment, and BT has added exclusive sports coverage to its burgeoning pay TV operations. BT is also expected to return to the cell-phone market this year through a deal with EE.

BSkyB shares have lost more than £1.5 billion ($2.46 billion) of their value since November, when BT won an auction to show European Champions League soccer matches on its sport channels, as part of a £2 billion ($3.29 billion) investment in sports broadcast rights. BT’s high-speed fiber network will reach 90% of U.K. homes next year as part of a £3 billion ($4.93 billion) investment.

Vodafone already offers its 4G customers access to Sky Sports Mobile TV, which includes live soccer, tennis, cricket, golf and rugby.

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