Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ESPN buys European cable network

The news that had been rumbling has finally come through as today ESPN announced that they had agreed to buy NASN from Setenta Sports, with the deal being finalised early in the new year. The deal worth around £62m includes ESPN taking over all current TV rights that Setenta owns for the NASN channel.

The main question is now whether the channel will move off the 'stand alone' setup and on to a standard Sky package or whether it'll mainline a subscription channel. As I understand it ESPN's intention is to bundle it with the Sky Sports World package and establish themselves in the mainstream UK & Europe market with intentions to bid for the English Premiership Football Rights as well as the NFL Rights when both come up again, in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

In the short term, one thing that this news will definitely mean is the return of all eoe programming, including Pardon The Interruption, Around The Horn, Baseball Tonight and for the 2007 season for the first time, Sportscenter will be shown in the UK.

ESPN already have a footprint in the European market with the ESPN Classic channel. It is still unclear whether or not ESPN will be applying for a second channel on the Sky EPG to have an ESPN UK and ESPN UK 2, but the channel will be rebranded ESPN UK when the deal is complete in January.

Baseball wise there will be very little difference for the 2007 season, NASN already show 250 games live each regular season and ESPN's own Sunday Night Baseball will still be shown on terrestrial television in the UK on

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