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SBD Global/February 8, 2013/Media

ESPN May Withdraw From U.K. Market After Losing Several Sports-Rights Deals

Disney is "exploring an exit" from the U.K. TV sport market after ESPN "lost several big broadcast deals including live Premier League football," according to Plunkett & Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. ESPN, Disney-owned and the largest sports broadcaster in the U.S., "was all but unknown in the U.K. until its launch three years ago on the back of a deal to screen 46 live Premier League games a year." But the channel's threat to BSkyB's dominance "proved short-lived after it was outbid for the latest Premier League rights by BT." ESPN "has also lost other key sports contracts" in the U.K. including Serie A, Ligue 1, Major League Soccer and Premiership Rugby (GUARDIAN, 2/6). In London, Matthew Garrahan reported Disney CFO Jay Rasulo said on Disney's first-quarter earnings call ESPN had "experienced losses" in the U.K. due to the ramping up of sports-rights costs and was "exploring an exit" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/6). An ESPN U.K. spokesperson said: "We have been saying for some time that we are exploring a range of potential options for our business. We are not going to discuss specifics" (VARIETY, 2/6).
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