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 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.
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.
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.