In a deal expected to close in late July, UK telecommunications provider BT will acquire ESPN‘s UK and Ireland TV channels business which primarily includes the ESPN and ESPN America channels. As part of the deal, BT, an aggressive player in the UK sports rights arena, will pick up those channels’ rights to live soccer matches from the FA Cup, the UEFA Europe League, the German Bundesliga and the Scottish Premier League. BT will continue to operate at least one ESPN-branded channel and will continue to air U.S. sports including NCAA college basketball, NCAA college football and NASCAR. Disney-owned ESPN had been seeking an exit from the ultra-competitive UK market which BT entered last year via a £738M deal ($1.1B) for 38 live Premier League soccer games annually for three years from the start of the 2013-14 season. That competition resulted in split rights with News Corp’s BSkyB and shut out ESPN. BT has acquired additional rights to high-profile rugby and tennis tournaments as well and is launching a new Sport TV package this summer. ESPN will continue to own and operate its existing digital media businesses while the non-UK ESPN America TV businesses and ESPN Classic are expected to be wound down throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. BT said the transaction is expected to complete on July 31. Financials were not disclosed.
UK telecommunications provider BT is negotiating to buy soccer rights from ESPN as the Disney-owned channel explores an exit from the UK, the Financial Times reports. BT aims to launch as many as three sports channels offering soccer, rugby …
While anti-piracy legislation is at a standstill in the US, the path was cleared in the UK today for the Digital Economy Act, a law that requires Internet providers to crack down on suspected pirates. London’s Court of Appeals thwarted a challenge to the Act from two of the country’s leading broadband companies, TalkTalk Telecom and the BT Group, by upholding a lower court’s decision that the Act is consistent with European laws. The move allows officials to finally begin implementing the legislation which has been slow to move forward since it was originally established in 2010. Under the Act, rights holders will inform ISPs when they have suspicions of material being illegally downloaded. The ISPs will then be required to alert suspects in writing under a graduated response system that could ultimately result in penalties. The 2 operators in question contended that it was not for them to police their customers, citing excessive costs and the question of invasion of privacy. The decision comes a little less than 2 months after the US put the controversial PIPA and SOPA bills on hold. Industry groups in the UK today welcomed the news. Lavinia Carey, chief of the British Video Association, said the org was “delighted that the Government can now press on with implementation of notice-sending under the 2010 Digital Economy Act. The video industry generates the single largest source of returns on investment for film
British broadband and digital TV provider BT Vision has entered a licensing agreement with Miramax to give BT Vision Unlimited customers a selection of movies on demand from the Miramax library. In a first, a special Miramax-branded area will be created within BT’s Film space. The deal with BT follows a streaming agreement that Miramax entered with Netflix for the U.K. and Ireland late last year. The full BT Vision/Miramax press release is below:
The agreement gives BT Vision Unlimited subscribers instant access to a range of films from the Miramax collection, which has received 284 Academy Award nominations and won 68 Oscars.
The films available will include: Academy Award Best Picture winner Chicago; Pulp Fiction, the modern classic directed by Quentin Tarantino, as well as Kill Bill 1 and 2; nine-Academy Award winner The English Patient; Good Will Hunting, written by and starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law; The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese; and the first three instalments of the horror franchise, Scream.
BSkyB has for years held exclusive rights to the movies of the major Hollywood studios in the first subscription pay-TV window, the UK’s Competition Commission pointed out in a provisional report issued today, saying Sky’s large subscriber base is preventing rivals BT and Virgin Media from bidding successfully against Sky for these rights. BSkyB responded by saying it will cooperate with the the ongoing regulatory review but believes that no regulatory intervention is required.
“At the heart of the problem is Sky’s strong position in the pay-TV market, with twice as many subscribers to pay TV as all other traditional pay-TV retailers put together,” said Laura Carstensen, who headed the commission probe. Sky supplies some other pay-TV companies with its movie channels, but the industry watchdog said that prices charged for the service are too high. Consumers are paying up to $98M a year too much to see films on television as result of Sky’s dominance, the commission said. Subscribers to Sky’s 12 movie channels pay roughly $60 a month.
Kip Meek has been appointed non-executive chairman of Project Canvas, the joint venture between the BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk and Arqiva to create on-demand TV. Meek will step down from his consulting job at Ingenious Media. There’s been talk that Orange, the French mobile phone company, may join …