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LONDON, Jan 31 - Britain's BSkyB is to launch an online TV offering to non-Sky customers to enable it to better take on firms such as Lovefilm and Netflix and following some signs of slowing growth at its main satellite base.
Britain's dominant pay-TV group said it would launch the new service to tap in to the 13 million homes that do not currently pay for a television service. It made the announcement as it revealed it had added 40,000 net new customers to its main TV service in the second quarter, slightly below expectations.
The new offering will launch in the first half of 2012 and will enable new customers to watch Sky content including movies and eventually sports on flexible tariffs and without signing a contract.
BSkyB has grown consistently through the economic downturn by attracting consumers to its range of sports, movies and broadband, but it has started to show signs of slowing growth to its overall base in recent quarters.
The 40,000 net new customers added in the second quarter was above the 26,000 it added in the first quarter but below the 140,000 added in the second quarter a year ago. Analysts had expected net new TV customers of 58,000.
To balance out the slowing growth it sold an increasing number of different services to existing customers, such as high-definition TV or broadband, enabling it to post strong first-half results.
Revenues were up 6 percent to 3.4 billion pounds ($5.3 billion) and due to improving efficiencies in the business it posted adjusted operating profit up 16 percent to 601 million pounds.
Its shares have performed weakly so far this year as investors fear that an auction for crucial football rights, investments in fiber networks and new competitors from the likes of movie service Lovefilm could all hit the business model.
($1 = 0.6377 British pounds)
(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Matt Scuffham)