SBD/Issue 245/Sports Media

Iger Confirms ESPN May Bid On English Premier League TV Rights

ESPN May Challenge BSkyB For
TV Rights To English Premier League
Disney President & CEO Bob Iger yesterday indicated that ESPN "may consider mounting a challenge to BSkyB" next year by bidding for English Premier League (EPL) broadcast rights, according to Sabbagh & Andrews of the LONDON TIMES. The next auction of EPL rights is scheduled to start in January, and Iger said of ESPN, "I know they will look at the Premier League rights again, both individually and in partnership with others." ESPN is also "interested in pursuing the rights to show Premier League games" in the U.S., where the rights are currently held by Fox. Iger said that ESPN's coverage of this summer's Euro 2008 soccer tournament "proved extremely popular," with the net choosing to air the semifinals and the final on ABC. ESPN execs believe MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham's move to the U.S. "helped to lift interest in the sport" in the country. Meanwhile, Iger said that he had "earmarked about [$250-300M] for acquisitions in video games," and added that ESPN was "looking 'at companies that fit well within the Disney or ESPN brands'" (LONDON TIMES, 9/11).

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