ESPN was disappointed earlier this year when it fell short in the bidding for the rights to televise the English Premier League. But what a difference a couple of months make.
In the wake of Setanta Sports failing to meet a payment deadline last Friday, the EPL terminated its rights agreement with the Irish pay service and then opened the bidding for its current package of 46 games and its package of 23 games starting in 2010-11.
Then today came news that the Premier League awarded Setanta’s rights to ESPN giving the Alleged Worldwide Leader a footing in arguably the world’s most popular soccer league.
James Robinson of the Guardian newspaper in the UK writes that ESPN paid considerably less than Setanta’s original bid.
BBC News says ESPN takes over Setanta’s packages for Saturday afternoon and Monday night games this season.
This means that EPL fans in the United Kingdom will be watching ESPN for games starting in the fall of this year.
In the U.S., the Setanta Sports USA is a separate entity from the UK version and has a separate deal to show English Premier Games on various platforms including DirecTV and various cable providers. It says it will continue to show EPL games this season and beyond.
UPDATE, 11:13 p.m.: I don’t know why ESPN did not send me this press release, I guess it’s selectively sending me certain items and omitting others. But I found this off their public relations website. It’s the official announcement of ESPN obtaining EPL rights.
ESPN AWARDED EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS PACKAGES FOR PREMIER LEAGUE IN UK
ESPN will Show Live 46 matches until 2010 and
23 a Season From 2010-2013
The Premier League today awarded ESPN two exclusive live media packages for the 2009/2010 season, and one package from August 2010 for the following three seasons. The agreement means ESPN will deliver fans in the UK 46 Barclays Premier League matches this coming season and 23 matches each season after that until May 2013.
We are clearly delighted that our bid for exclusive media rights to the Barclays Premier League matches in the UK has been successful,” said Lynne Frank, ESPN Managing Director in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “This is a huge step for our business, and we look forward to working with the Premier League, football clubs and distributors to bring UK sports fans all the excitement they expect in Premier League football.”
“Premier League football is one of the world’s most sought after sports properties, and we are very excited to be expanding our business in the UK with England’s top football product,” said Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, ESPN International. “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.”
Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “The Premier League is extremely pleased to have added ESPN as a UK rights holder. They have a formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports and I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them.”
ESPN plans to make its Barclays Premier League coverage widely available across multiple pay-TV platforms. As a first step to this distribution strategy, ESPN has reached an agreement for its coverage to be retailed by Sky to residential and commercial customers.
So the network is hell bent on World Domination.