MANCHESTER United has taken full ownership of its in-house television channel by buying out a minority stake held by pay TV broadcaster BSkyB.
MUTV was set up as a three-way joint venture in 1998 between the club, BSkyB and commercial broadcaster ITV. 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 to 650 million followers.
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 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.
Chelsea bought out BSkyB’s stake in its digital media business last year.