ESPN to air Premier League in HD
By James Welsh
ESPN has won the rights to show 46 Premier League matches in the 2009-10 season and 23 matches in each of the three seasons from 2010-11 to 2012-13.
The Disney-owned sports broadcaster is understood to have bid approximately £90m for the games. Setanta, which had its broadcasting rights to the matches taken back by the Premier League after it failed to make a scheduled payment, had originally paid £131m for the packages.
"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's managing director in Europe, the 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."
ESPN plans to launch a new premium channel in the UK to carry its newly-acquired content. A carriage and retail agreement for both residential and commercial customers has already been struck with Sky, and the broadcaster is in negotiations with Virgin Media and BT Vision.
"ESPN is pleased to announce that it will broadcast a selection of games from the 2009/10 – 12/13 Premier League seasons live and in high definition," the broadcaster confirmed.
The new channel will join ESPN's existing UK channels ESPN Classic and ESPN America.