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BSkyB Sells Stake in Manchester United TV Network

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LONDON - English soccer club Manchester United has bought out British pay TV giant BSkyB's 33.3 percent stake equity stake in its Manchester United Television network, better known as MUTV.

Financial terms weren't disclosed.

"As part of the club's long-term digital media plans, Manchester United has made the strategic acquisition" to fully own the content production and distribution capabilities of the business, the club said Tuesday. "This latest acquisition is a natural progression and is indicative of the club’s desire to have full control of the content generating and distribution capabilities across all of its businesses."

The channel was launched in 1998 as a joint venture with BSkyB and U.K. broadcaster ITV.  Manchester United bought out ITV’s one-third stake in Nov. 2007 and said it has since further expanded its TV capabilities.

MUTV is available in 57 countries around the world and offers exclusive interviews with members of the soccer team, documentaries, live studio shows, quiz segments, as well as live matches featuring the club's youth teams. In the U.K. and Ireland markets, consumers can get it via subscription on satellite and cable TV. In the rest of the world, it is available via subscription or as programming blocks bought by TV networks.

"The acquisition of Sky’s stake is great news for all our fans who watch us around the globe, MUTV, its staff and the club," said Manchester United commercial director Richard Arnold. "We look forward to continuing to enhance our media proposition and distribution capabilities in the years to come, and delivering some of the best and most compelling content to our 659 million followers."

MUTV employs a staff of approximately 60. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai