NEW YORK: Media giant News Corporation has found God online. The company that brought topless girls to British breakfast tables in the pages of its red-top tabloids has snapped up, a US website devoted to more spiritual pursuits.

News Corp's Fox Entertainment Group is not entirely heaven-sent in its motives, however, citing research that estimates 82 million US believers use the internet to source and buy faith-related DVDs, books and other products - a market valued at around $8 billion (€5.4bn; £3.9bn).

Financial details of the deal have not been revealed but the founder of the site, Steven Waldman appears to have overcome his initial reservations about the new owner's tabloid associations.

He declares: "In the last few years, national advertisers have awakened in a big way to the need to reach people of faith and spirituality."

The site, which claims more than three million monthly visitors, runs the gamut of belief from agnosticism to Zoroastrianism with all stops in between. It even offers "soul matching" and an advice service for those unsure which belief system might suit them best.

Comments Fox Entertainment president Dan Fawcett: "It's a segment that's huge and still growing."

He adds, without a trace of irony: "[Beliefnet] fits very well in the Fox family. We think we can help bring it to a new level."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff