Expanding UK cable operator ntl yesterday threw down the gauntlet to Britain's dominant pay-TV operator, BSkyB, saying it would use the newly won Virgin brand name to challenge Sky in the contest for rights to broadcast Premier League football matches.
Last month the European Commission enshrined into European law its decision that the Premiership's live rights for the 2007 season onwards must be sold in six packages, with no one bidder being able to buy all six—thus ending Sky's exclusive ownership of live rights dating back to 1993.
Ntl chairman Jim Mooney said the merged entity—offering a 'quadruple play' of digital television, high speed internet, plus fixed and mobile telephony—was already exploring opportunities for football coverage. "I think the concept of Virgin Sports is one of the most exciting things we can look forward to. We are going to beat up Sky."
The combined company will have 5.1m cable customers and 4.3m mobile phone subscribers.
Branson said: "We can actually take Virgin Mobile on to another stage which would have been difficult for Virgin Mobile to do on its own. The timing is quite good."
Lovelace Consulting | 05.04.2006