BSkyB Enters Triple Play Arena

Report in the press have confirmed that Satellite broadcaster BSkyB has begun its planned spending spree with the purchase of broadband internet provider Easynet for £211m. Earlier this month, BSkyB said it would embark on an acquisition drive after raising £1bn in a bonds issue.

The Easynet takeover will help BSkyB move towards broadcasting some of its programmes via the internet. BSkyB said it would pay 175 pence in cash for each Easynet share, a 38% premium to Thursday’s closing price. The deal means BSkyB will be able to offer customers ‘triple-play’ services such as broadband, television and telephony.

The broadcaster will soon be pitching itself against its cable rivals NTL and Telewest, who have agreed to merge, as well as BT. BSkyB will also be placing itself head-to-head with the likes of BT, AOL and Wanadoo in the rapidly expanding broadband market.

UK connections to broadband nearly doubled to 8.1 million in the year to 30 June.

Easynet has invested in putting equipment in BT local exchanges that allows it to offer a range of services to customers. The provider is currently targeting access to 5.8 million homes and 850,000 businesses in the UK in many regions where NTL and Telewest already have customer strongholds.

“Today’s offer reflects the exciting opportunities that now exist to combine quality entertainment with significant high-speed connections,” said BSkyB’s chief executive James Murdoch. “We definitely think that in a marketplace changing as rapidly as this, we want to keep all our options open,” he added.

BSkyB is 37%-owned by his father Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News Corporation.