LONDON (Reuters) - Cable operator Virgin Media has joined forces with Irish broadcaster Setanta Sports to launch a new TV channel as part of its drive to boost its sports offering and take on fierce rival BSkyB.
Satellite group BSkyB has in the past relied on sports content such as Premier League soccer to attract customers but it is now facing competition after Setanta won the right to show a third of the televised top-flight matches.
Virgin Media and Setanta said they would launch a new Setanta Sports News channel to all of Virgin Media’s 3 million digital TV subscribers for no additional cost, offering breaking news, comment and analysis.
The channel will also replace the Sky Sports News channel which was pulled from the Virgin platform along with other basic Sky channels after a row over carriage costs.
“Setanta Sports News ... will be a powerful new voice in sports news,” Setanta Sports co-founder Michael O’Rourke said, adding it would feature live location reports, interviews, studio-based experts and discussion shows.
Setanta said it also intended to make the channel available via satellite and broadband.
Virgin Media also said on Thursday it would launch a new sports portal available to anyone, offering soccer highlights from several leagues, including the Premier League, via the Internet for one week after transmission.
The cable operator, which has engaged in a fierce battle with BSkyB for pay-TV customers since it launched earlier this year, announced last week that it would offer the Setanta Sports channels to customers taking its most expensive TV package.
Customers on any other TV package can add the Setanta channels for an extra 8 pounds a month.