ESPN Upfront: Net Plans To Bid On EPL Rights, Touts ESPN2 Brand
ESPN will bid on EPL rights when the league's current deal with NBC Sports ends after two more seasons. During an impromptu press conference following ESPN's annual upfront presentation to advertisers, ESPN President John Skipper said he expects negotiations for the EPL's next deal to start next spring. Skipper said, "We'll be interested in it. We love the English Premier League."
ESPN almost certainly would partner with another media company, like Fox Sports, on a bid. Skipper: "What we do is try to spread the rights around a little bit. I don't know that we could do an all-in deal." He said ESPN would likely partner on a bid because it has too many commitments to other sports on its channels during the EPL season. EPL matches conflict with the channel's college football and college basketball programming during the fall and winter on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, for example. Skipper also praised NBC Sports Group's production quality following its first season carrying EPL games, culminating with NBCUniversal running season-ending matches across 10 networks. Skipper: "NBC has done a great job. I watched Sunday. We could do that. But what they do on Saturday, we don't have the windows for. We could not do all those games."
On the "SportsCenter" front, ESPN announced that it will begin producing from new digital studios at the end of June during the FIFA World Cup. The new set will include a working newsroom, integrated social media feeds and more video and graphics. ESPN Senior VP/SportsCenter & News Rob King said, "It's all to enhance our storytelling. I can tell you that what we are doing is really influenced by the digital experience."