Sky move away from football. 

7 October 2003

The year was 1999 and BSkyB tried to buy Manchester United Football club. In many ways it seemed the perfect deal – a large broadcaster with a huge reliance on football broadcasting, buying one of the biggest football clubs in England.

The takeover was not to be, and BSkyB ended up with just under a 10% share in the club, but it’s influence on the media sector was huge as media companies like Granada and NTL rushed out to stake their claim.

The supposed benefits of these linkups never really took off. A few websites and club branded TV channels didn’t set the world on fire, not least as they didn’t have what would be most popular – the rights to show matches themselves. The stakes had been taken in the hope that they’d help break BSkyB’s stranglehold on live football. In reality it did little more than waste money – NTL’s investment in six clubs helped it slide even faster towards bankruptcy. Without that basic piece of the jigsaw puzzle, the whole concept fell flat on its face.

This sorry saga has of course had one winner – BSkyB has made around £62m from the sale of it’s stake in United, and being sensible, the company is unlikely to sell it’s stakes in three other clubs at a loss. That result probably won’t be the outcome for the other companies who rushed on in after it, wanting the golden crown, but ending up in the sackcloth.

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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Liverpool, Tuesday 22 November 2022