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BT Scores ESPN’s UK & Ireland TV Business, Including Soccer Rights Portfolio

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 7:15am PST

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.

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BT In Talks With ESPN To Acquire Additional UK-Euro Soccer Rights

By | Sunday February 17, 2013 @ 3:24pm PST

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 and other sports content the company has already secured for about £1B ($1.6B). The ESPN rights that may be up for grabs to BSkyB as well as BT include games from the German Bundesliga, the Europa League and the English Football Association Cup. Interest in sports rights has driven up costs for broadcasters globally as well as in the U.S. The rights in question might cost £20M ($32M) or more annually. Last summer BT paid £738m ($1.18B or about $394M per season) for the rights to 32 Premier League football games for three years in a competition that split rights with News Corp’s BSkyB. ESPN was outbid in that contest and lost the rights. BT has acquired additional rights as well and is preparing the multiplatform sports service for a pre-summer launch.

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Soccer Journalist Gabriele Marcotti Joins ESPN As Writer/Analyst

By | Monday July 16, 2012 @ 11:11am PDT

Marcotti has inked a multiyear deal to create soccer content on multiple ESPN media, the sports media company announced today. He will serve as a writer/analyst for ESPN’s TV soccer coverage and write for ESPNFC online, the company’s new multi-language, multi-country brand for soccer fans. ESPN says Marcotti’s writing will range from news and insight to comment and opinion and will cover soccer leagues and competitions worldwide. In the coming weeks, the company says ESPNFC will bring together all of ESPN’s soccer properties and house them under one universally recognized name, ensuring coverage of all news and developments 24/7 of all leagues globally. Read More »

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BSkyB, BT Bid $4.7B For English Soccer

By | Thursday June 14, 2012 @ 1:03am PDT

British Sky Broadcasting Group and telecommunications company BT Group have won bidding to broadcast 154 English Premier League soccer matches for $4.7 billion — almost doubling the current deal, Bloomberg reports. BSkyB’s pay-TV Sky channel will show 116 matches starting in the 2013-14 season, with the phone and broadband company BT getting 38 matches. The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN lost the right to broadcast Premier League matches. BT will pay $381 million for its share of the matches. BSkyB, of which News Corp owns 39%, bid higher to retain the sports rights it relies on to keep and lure subscribers. BT is marketing more broadband conneections and will use the games to start a new sports channel. The phone company hadn’t broadcast games before.

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Univision Scores Big With Mexico Match

By | Friday June 24, 2011 @ 12:29pm PDT

Univision said today that its coverage of the Mexico-Honduras semifinal in soccer’s Gold Cup on Wednesday was the network’s top primetime sports telecast in history, drawing 10.9 million total viewers and beating some of the U.S. broadcast networks in key male demos, including males 18-49. It also was its third-most-watched telecast ever behind a couple of World Cup games. Earlier in the night, Univision’s coverage of the U.S.-Panama semifinal averaged 3.2 million viewers. The games set up what should be another ratings blowout: Saturday’s final of the regional tournament, which Univision will air along with English-language cable network Fox Soccer Channel, pits rivals the U.S. and Mexico at the Rose Bowl.

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UEFA Champions League Final Draws Big Ratings As Soccer’s Popularity In US Grows

By | Thursday June 2, 2011 @ 9:28am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Fans of Manchester United are probably trying to forget the drubbing their team got on Saturday at the hands of Messi & Co, but here is a fresh reminder: The ratings for the UEFA Champions League final, which is like the Super Bowl for European soccer clubs, came in this morning. The game between Manchester United and Barcelona, which Barcelona won 3-1, drew 4.2 million viewers on Fox and Fox Deportes (formerly Fox en Espanol). That was up 91% from last year’s final between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich and up 86% from the 2009 final, which also featured Manchester United and Barcelona. U.S. viewership of the UEFA Champions League final has grown exponentially over the past decade. The English-language viewing has gone from 264,000 viewers on ESPN in 2002 to 2.6 million on Fox this year. That, combined with a string of viewership records posted by last year’s World Cup, underscores the growing popularity of high-level international soccer in the U.S.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: World Cup Up With Team U.S. Heroics, ‘Hot In Cleveland’ Down

Nellie Andreeva

ESPN’s Wednesday morning World Cup match between the U.S. and Algeria set records as the highest-rated and most-watched soccer telecast in the history of the ESPN networks, while ESPN3.com drew the largest U.S. audience for a sports event on the Web with 1.1 million unique viewers watching the match for an average of 43 minutes.

Meanwhile, the second episode of the TV Land original sitcom Hot In Cleveland averaged 3.4 million viewers, down 29% from  the record-setting heights of the show’s premiere last week. The number is still pretty solid for TV Land. Read More »

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