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Virgin Media Is Interested in Carrying BT Group’s Sports Content

Virgin Media Inc., the U.K.’s second largest pay-television company, is interested in carrying the sports programs that BT Group Plc has acquired this year as part of an expansion into television rights.

“It’ll be interesting how it will play out,” Virgin Media Chief Financial Officer Eamonn O’Hare said at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona today. “Hopefully they will see value in the 4 million customers that we have, and see that as a route to market for their valuable content.”

O’Hare said he was open to talking to BT about carrying the shows. BT, the U.K.’s biggest fixed-line phone company, has acquired rights to broadcast Premier League soccer games and English rugby matches, challenging pay-TV providers such as British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. which also bid for the rights. BT has said it plans to release its BT Sport service by next summer and hasn’t given details about the format.

Phone and cable companies are increasingly offering a similar suite of services -- bundles of television, high-speed Internet and phone lines. Virgin Media, BSkyB and BT are using exclusive rights to shows and movies as well as video-on-demand services to differentiate themselves and to make extra money by leasing rights to competitors.

“We do think customers will want more fragmented, different-sourced content,” O’Hare said. “But we think they will definitely value a one-stop-shop.”

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