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Google and BSkyB team up

Firms work on hosted email and portal offerings

Broadcaster and ISP BSkyB has asked Google to host email and other services for its broadband customers in the UK. Their collaboration could also lead to the creation of targeted TV ads.

Google will run mail services for users with addresses @sky.com, host a portal for user-generated video content and deliver targeted search advertising on BSkyB's websites, the companies said yesterday.

In time, that targeted advertising could appear on TV, in the same way that Google is developing advertising sales platforms for broadcast radio and even print media.

The digital video recorders that BSkyB offers subscribers to its Sky satellite TV channels are already able to deliver targeted advertising, although the company does not yet use that capability, according to BSkyB spokesman Robert Fraser.

"Sky is already very tuned in to the potential of delivering targeted adverts to TV users," he said. "We will work together with Google to deliver targeted ads."

The companies have set no timetable to introduce such a service, though. "It's an area for future development," he said.

While BSkyB's business revolves mainly around broadcasting professionally produced content, the deal with Google will take it into new territory: the companies also plan to build a video portal featuring content generated by Sky subscribers. It will run on systems developed by Google for its Google Video portal, but will be branded as a Sky service, the companies said.

The video portal will allow Sky customers to see only content posted by other Sky customers, said Google spokesman DJ Collins. However, content posted by Sky users will also be visible to other users of the YouTube service that Google acquired in November, he said.

Analysts at Ovum said user-generated content is an essential element of any portal. But they wondered why BSkyB isn't making use of MySpace.com, which also belongs to News Corp, the parent company of BSkyB.

BSkyB began life as a satellite TV broadcaster. Following its acquisition of UK ISP Easynet Group in October 2005, BSkyB launched its own broadband internet access service in July. That service is available only to subscribers to the Sky satellite TV services. The company has 8.3 million subscribers, and aims to have 10 million by the end of the decade, with three million of them subscribing to the broadband service, Fraser said.

More comment on the collaboration here.

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