Following its successful bid for the TV rights for Nationwide League football [WAMN,30-May-00 ], the Granada/Carlton-owned ONdigital TV network is planning to float on the London Stock Exchange this autumn – although the final timing is likely to be postponed until the current round of consolidation among ITV companies is complete.

The Nationwide deal gives ONdigital the framework for its own premium football channel, and its £300 million-plus investment in the live rights, plus its pay-per-view and current broadcasting rights, is set to pay-off in a big way, realising up to £2 billion from the flotation.

Says Stuart Prebble, Ondigital chief executive: "Everyone knows that premier football is the driver for pay television. ONdigital will be in a position to guarantee access to more high-quality football than the other two platforms [cable and BSkyB]."

Ondigital’s current subscriber base is thought to be in the region of 750,000 households, although the next official figures are not due for release until next month. The broadcaster, which launched last October, has set its sights on one million subscribers by the end of this year and estimates it will break even with two million.

News source: The Times (London)