News Corp. To Buy Out ESPN's Stake In Asian TV Joint Venture ESPN Star Sports
News Corp. and ESPN today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which a unit of News Corp. will buy ESPN's 50% equity interest in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS). News Corp. will own and operate all of the ESS businesses while providing ESPN more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Co.'s overall efforts in Asia. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and ESS will continue to be jointly managed by the two companies until the transaction closes (ESPN). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai notes News Corp. has "been looking to streamline its global holdings by either buying full control of or selling business that it doesn't fully control." The Singapore-based ESS "operates 17 networks in five languages that use the ESPN and Star Sports brands throughout Asia." Sources said that News Corp. "would continue to use the ESPN brand for the business and some of its networks for an unspecified period before phasing it out." It was not "immediately clear what name it would use for the business and its current ESPN-branded channels" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 6/6).
ATTACKING SHOT: ESS and The England & Wales Cricket Board have agreed to a seven-year deal for the exclusive broadcasting rights to int'l matches. The deal runs through '19 and includes rights for TV, online, mobile and radio. The markets covered under the deal include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, among others in Asia and North Africa. The deal also includes India's next two national team tours to England in '14 and '18 (ESS).