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It what should be the final update in this Saga, ESPN have bought the Saturday tea-time FA Premier League football matches. It means if you’re a Sky subscriber you’ll have to pay an extra £1 a month but its a small price in comparison to the £15 Setanta charged. Plus you’ll get groovy America sports like Major League Baseball, Hockey, NFL and NBA!
The official word:
ESPN has bought the rights to show 46 games in next season’s English Premier League that were to have been shown by struggling broadcaster Setanta.
Disney-owned ESPN has won the two packages of games shown on Saturday teatimes and Monday evenings. Both will be sold to customers through BSkyB.
It has also won the 23 games per season Setanta was due to show from 2010-13.
More after the jump.
Source: BBC News
The league took the broadcasting rights back from Setanta on Friday after it missed a payment deadline.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Premier League (SPL) has taken back its UK rights for 2009/10 “and beyond” from Setanta after the Irish broadcaster missed a £3m payment.
The SPL said it was now “actively engaging in the process of selling our domestic broadcasting rights”.
ESPN said in a statement it had “reached an agreement for its coverage to be retailed by Sky to residential and commercial customers”, who will pay extra to view the games.
ESPN also hopes to make coverage available on other platforms. A spokesman for Virgin Media confirmed it was in talks with ESPN about a possible deal. BT had no comment.
It is the first time that ESPN will broadcast live Premier League football in the UK.
The broadcaster already has two channels in the UK, one covering American sports and another showing archived action.
“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,” said Russell Wolff, managing director of ESPN International.
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said that ESPN had a “formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports”.
I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them,” he added.
“I would like to thank ESPN, as well as all the other broadcasters who submitted bids, for their professionalism and effort in engaging in our sales process at such short notice.”
BSkyB had been expected to buy the package of Monday night games, which it has already won from 2010/11 onwards. It will show 92 games next season and then 115 in each of the following three years.
Attention could now turn to the other broadcasting rights that Setanta owns.
It has contracts with the FA for England and FA Cup matches, and with the Blue Square Premier, the top division of English non-league football.
It also owns rights to the PGA golf tour, as well as cricket and rugby union deals.
It is running at an estimated loss of £100m a year, after missing subscriber targets.
The broadcaster has 1.2 million subscribers, 700,000 short of the 1.9 million that industry experts believe they need to break even.
Deloitte has been lined up as administrator should, as is widely expected, Setanta fail.