Music Choice Europe has been sold to Stingray Digital, the Montreal-based operator of music-channels that include The Karaoke Channel. The premium audio service was previously owned by a consortium of private investors that included the UPC founder Mark Schneider. No financial terms have been disclosed.
“This acquisition is a perfect strategic fit for Stingray” stated Eric Boyko, President and CEO of Stingray Digital. “We will immediately benefit from synergies between the two companies, but more importantly, Music Choice Europe’s presence in 17 different countries will allow us to expand more quickly into Europe and Africa with our other music services that we have developed for the North American market”.
In addition to The Karaoke Channel, Stingray Digital also runs Concert TV, a VOD service distributed to 30 million homes in the United States with plans to move into Canada. In addition it runs Galaxie Music service, a collection of 50 music video channels, available in all digital cable, IPTV and satellite television households in Canada and with an increasing presence in the US, the Caribbean and other countries.
“Music Choice has been actively growing its subscriber base and geographic reach over the past several years”, added Mark Wilson, President of Music Choice Europe. “Now as part of the Stingray Digital group of companies, Music Choice will be able to continue its growth by providing a greater variety of music-related services to current and future customers.”
Music Choice Europe was founded in 1993 by shareholders including Sony and Time Warner. The music companies later brought BSkyB on board in a bid to secure distribution on the platform against rival DMX Europe.
Music Choice was taken private through a management buyout in October 2005. It acquired Xtra Music, the successor to DMX, in March 2007 for just £220,000 .
The company has struggled to make headway against the internet-delivered free music services. The Music Choice video service was introduced by Sweden’s Com Hem in June 2009, but it was dealt a major blow in June 2010 when talks with BSkyB collapsed losing several million subscribers.
Music Choice was originally distributed to all of the Sky subscriber base, who could choose to upgrade the bouquet of 10 non-stop music channels with a further 48 channel selection. However, subscriber numbers were reduced in part when Sky broke its basic package up into a series of smaller options, and Music Choice placed in the Music pack.
Services are currently delivered to more than 10 million subscribers through platforms in 17 countries across Europe and Africa. These include Sky Deutschland, Telenet, Melita, UPC, Get and Cyfra+.