BSkyB signs up 1m digital subscribers ahead of schedule

BSkyB has achieved its target of taking on more than a million digital subscribers, two months ahead of schedule.

BSkyB has achieved its target of taking on more than a million

digital subscribers, two months ahead of schedule.



BSkyB had signed up 1.21 million digital subscribers by the end of July,

43 per cent of whom were new customers.



However, the broadcaster’s pre-tax profits for the year to 30 June

tumbled by pounds 198 million to pounds 73 million, as as result of

massive investments in digital television, including the set-top box

giveaway.



Since the free offer was introduced at the end of May, the monthly

demand for the digital service has increased threefold.



BSkyB also revealed that over the past 12 months, its marketing costs

have rocketed by pounds 48 million to pounds 216 million. The campaigns

supporting the digital launch and the relaunch of other channels have

cost pounds 69 million, the broadcaster claimed.



The costs arising from the company’s aborted bid for Manchester United

Football Club came to pounds 6 million, and Sky is spending an estimated

pounds 11 million to avoid computer malfunctions arising from the

millennium bug.



The broadcaster also announced that its new interactive football

channel, Sky Sports Extra, will launch on 22 August with the Arsenal v

Manchester United game. Viewers will be able to use the digital

technology to select alternative camera angles, replays, highlights and

statistics on-screen.



Meanwhile, BSkyB is understood to be investigating the possibility of

taking small stakes in Premier League football clubs. While outright

acquisitions of clubs by broadcasters are unlikely to be allowed,

companies such as Sky feel they can have a degree of influence over

broadcasting rights - which come up for review in May 2001 - if they are

represented on club boards.



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