British Broadcasting Corporation

Page last updated at 20:36 GMT, Monday, 22 June 2009 21:36 UK

ESPN buys rights to Setanta games

Blackburn's Christopher Samba and Chelsea's Dider Drogba
ESPN will broadcast Premier League matches live in the UK for the first time

ESPN has bought the rights to show 46 games in next season's English Premier League that were to have been shown by struggling broadcaster Setanta.

Disney-owned ESPN has won the two packages of games shown on Saturday teatimes and Monday evenings. Both will be sold to customers through BSkyB.

It has also won the 23 games per season Setanta was due to show from 2010-13.

The league took the broadcasting rights back from Setanta on Friday after it missed a payment deadline.

It is not clear how much ESPN paid for the rights.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Premier League (SPL) has taken back its UK rights for 2009/10 "and beyond" from Setanta after the Irish broadcaster missed a £3m payment.

The SPL said it was now "actively engaging in the process of selling our domestic broadcasting rights".

'British commitment'

ESPN said in a statement it had "reached an agreement for its coverage to be retailed by Sky to residential and commercial customers", who will pay extra to view the games. ESPN also hopes to make coverage available on other platforms.

WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
ESPN's matches will be available on BSkyB
You will pay an extra amount for the ESPN matches
Games likely to be on a new branded ESPN channel - separate from the existing ESPN Classic and ESPN America
ESPN wants it on platforms other than BSkyB, and is in talks with Virgin Media and BT Vision

Virgin Media confirmed it was in talks with ESPN about a possible deal, while a spokesman for BT said it too was in discussions with ESPN regarding matches for the coming season.

It is the first time that ESPN will broadcast live Premier League football in the UK.

The broadcaster already has two channels in the UK, one covering American sports and another showing archived action.

"This move demonstrates our commitment to British sports fans and our ongoing commitment to delivering football to fans around the world across a variety of media," said Russell Wolff, managing director of ESPN International.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said that ESPN had a "formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports".

"I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them," he added.

ESPN had previously bid to win a slice of the forthcoming English Premier League TV deal, which will run from 2010 to 2013.

However, when the deal was announced in February, Sky had won five of the packages and Setanta one.

The Setanta package, which ESPN has now picked up for the three-year period, covers Saturday teatime kick-offs.

Other rights

BSkyB had been expected to buy the package of Monday night games, which it has already won from 2010/11 onwards. It will show 92 games next season and then 115 in each of the following three years.

Attention could now turn to the other broadcasting rights that Setanta owns.

It has contracts with the FA for England and FA Cup matches, and with the Blue Square Premier, the top division of English non-league football.

It also owns rights to the PGA golf tour, as well as cricket and rugby union deals.

It is running at an estimated loss of £100m a year, after missing subscriber targets.

The broadcaster has 1.2 million subscribers, 700,000 short of the 1.9 million that industry experts believe they need to break even.

Deloitte has been lined up as administrator should, as is widely expected, Setanta fail.



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SEE ALSO
SPL seeks new television contract
22 Jun 09 |  Scottish Premier
BT Vision stops selling Setanta
21 Jun 09 |  Business
Setanta loses Premier TV rights
19 Jun 09 |  Business
Premier League's Setanta deadline
15 Jun 09 |  Business
Why Setanta Sports is in trouble
09 Jun 09 |  Business
Last-ditch effort to save Setanta
09 Jun 09 |  Business

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian Unlimited ESPN snaps up Premier League games - PA - 3 hrs ago
Sky News US-Owned Firm Wins Premier League Matches - 4 hrs ago
Mirror.co.uk ESPN snaps up Premier League games - 5 hrs ago
Irish World News ESPN swoop for Setanta rights - 5 hrs ago
Yahoo! News English Premiership sells Setanta rights to ESPN - 5 hrs ago



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