LONDON (Reuters) - Premier League soccer club Manchester United have taken full ownership of their in-house television channel by buying out a minority stake held by pay TV broadcaster BSkyB BSY.L.
MUTV was set up as a three-way joint venture in 1998 between the club, BSkyB and commercial broadcaster ITV (ITV.L). United acquired ITV’s stake in 2007 and said the latest deal would allow it control over content and distribution of a channel available in 57 countries.
Financial terms were not disclosed. MUTV employs around 60 people and has offices in central Manchester and facilities at the club’s Old Trafford Stadium and training ground.
The United channel offers in-depth interviews and archive action from United, who claim to have more than 650 million followers worldwide. It does not show live Premier League games.
Media companies invested in a number of top English soccer clubs in the late 1990s, eager to try to tie up content deals that would help drive digital television take-up.
BSkyB tried to buy out United in 1999 but the British government blocked the deal on competition grounds.
Those ownership ties have largely unravelled in recent years as the 20 Premier League clubs have opted to sell their television rights collectively to broadcasters including BSkyB. United’s Premier League rivals Chelsea bought out BSkyB’s stake in their digital media business last year.
United are now owned by the American Glazer family who retained a tight grip on the club after a flotation on the New York Stock Exchange last year.
Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Sophie Walker