Digital Sports Network Debuts in England

28 November 2002

BT Openworld, British Telecom's mass-market Internet division, joined forces last week with ukbetting plc, Sportev Ltd and InTheBox Media to launch England's first broadband sports digital network, Sportal OnDemand.

The service will be available to broadband users on any ISP via BT Openworld's Internet sports site, Sportal (, which was launched last week. The Sportal brand name has been licensed from ukbetting plc to BT Openworld as part of a long-term licensing agreement. Sportal OnDemand runs on Sportev OS, Sportev's proprietary operating system for broadband channels.

Sportal OnDemand provides a one-stop solution for video sports coverage. The service will enable broadband subscribers in the United Kingdom to watch a wide range of video-on-demand sports programs, including as-live action, highlights, previews, interviews, archive and magazine programming. Covering major sports events worldwide, Sportal OnDemand will also feature content available nowhere else in the United Kingdom, including coverage of Serie A, the popular Italian football league.

Ukbetting plc, Englands's leading digital wagering operator, has pursued an active acquisitive strategy since listing on the Alternative Investment Market in August 2001. It now owns four sports content sites (,, and and two wagering sites ( and

ukbetting Group's turnover for the six months ended June 30, 2002 was £17.5 million, including the company's share of turnover derived from, which amounted to £3.88 million, generating gross profits of £724,000. Gross margins during this period moved to 5.31 percent (for the five months to Dec. 31, 2001: 1.71 percent.). EBITDA losses in the six months were £1.6 million (for the five months to Dec. 31, 2001: £1.6 million).

As an addition to the interim results, in September, it was announced that the number of betting customers stood at approximately 100,000 and the number of combined unique users for the sports content sites was 3.9 million per month. Those figures date from August 2002.

BT Openworld delivers broadband and narrowband services to more than 1.7 million business and consumer customers in England via

Rob van der Gaast has a background in sports journalism. He worked for over seven years as the head of sports for Dutch National Radio and has developed new concepts for the TV and the gambling industry. Now he operates from Istanbul as an independent gambling research analyst. He specializes in European gambling matters and in privatizations of gambling operators. Rob has contributed to IGN since Jul 09, 2001.