BT acquires ESPN’s Ireland and UK TV channels business

26 Feb 2013

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Telecoms player BT has acquired ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV channels business, giving it ownership of rights to major sporting events like the FA Cup, the UEFA Europa League, the Scottish Premier League and the German Bundesliga.

The deal will allow BT to continue to show a host of US sports currently shown on ESPN America, including NCAA College Basketball, NCAA College Football and NASCAR. The ESPN channels will be broadcast from BT Sport’s new home in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Until completion, the service for current subscribers to the ESPN channels across all television platforms remains unchanged.

The deal will enable BT Sport customers to see live coverage of the FA Cup for the 2013/14 season, the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League until the end of the 2016/17 season and the UEFA Europa League and German Bundesliga through to the end of the 2014/15 season.

These join the broadcast rights that BT Sport has previously announced, including 38 live Barclays Premier League matches – including 18 of the top clashes – in each of the next three seasons (beginning August 2013); 69 live Aviva Premiership Rugby matches for the next four seasons; and up to 800 hours per season of live women’s tennis, including the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

“The FA Cup, Scottish Premier League and Europa League rights will allow us to offer customers of BT Sport even more quality live football, including our first games from the Scottish top flight and our first European competition rights,” Marc Watson, chief executive of television at BT Retail explained.

“There will also be the best of US sports available courtesy of this deal, which will further broaden the appeal of BT Sport.”

ESPN will continue to own and operate its existing digital media businesses, which include multisport news and information portal ESPN.co.uk, ESPNcricinfo (cricket), ESPNFC (football), ESPNscrum (rugby), ESPNF1 (Formula 1) and broadband streaming service ESPN Player. ESPN Classic has been excluded from the proposed transaction.

Football image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com