Media Lifeline - Sky Sports

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As it celebrates 20 years in business, the channel still has the ability to make headlines.

April 1991: When Sky Television merged with British Satellite Broadcasting to form BSkyB in 1990, it acquired the latter's Sports Channel. In April 1991, it relaunches this as Sky Sports and it gains real momentum the next year when it forms a symbiotic relationship with top-flight English football. It encourages the top clubs to form the Premier League - for which it acquires exclusive live rights - and football becomes central to BSkyB's subscriber growth.

October 1998: BSkyB had launched Sky Sports 2 in 1994 and Sky Sports 3 in 1996. This enabled it to do more justice to sports other than football such as cricket, rugby (union and league) and golf. In 1998, following the launch of Sky Digital, which vastly increases the number of channels available on satellite television, it also launches Sky Sports News. This channel soon livens up Saturday afternoons with its panel of shouting men.

May 2006: In May 2006, Setanta acquires the rights to some English Premier League matches. There's speculation that this could stall Sky's growth. It doesn't - and, in fact, it's Setanta that's soon in trouble, bowing out of the UK market two years later.

April 2010: Sky Sports had been offering interactive features (for instance, choices of camera angles) since 1999 and it had also been making a commitment to increased picture quality, launching HD versions of its channels in 2006. Now, having trialled 3D sports coverage in one-off events beamed to pubs, BSkyB launches a dedicated channel that majors on 3D live football as its showcase asset.

April 2011: In January, Sky Sports parts company with its presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys, for remarks made off air but made public. Then during live coverage of a Manchester United game, Wayne Rooney, having scored, runs over to a Sky camera and starts swearing.

Fast forward: May 2013 BSkyB is enraged when, during negotiations for future Premier League live rights packages, it emerges that a group of six Premier League clubs now wants to monetise the rights to their own home fixtures - primarily by selling online television access on a "digital season ticket" and pay-per-view basis. Sky responds by making a bid to buy Manchester United.


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