News Corp. Set To Buy Out ESPN's Stake In ESPN STAR Sports
News Corp. is acquiring Walt Disney’s stake in ESPN STAR Sports, their Asian sports joint venture, "putting some of its cash to work and signalling its confidence in the prospects for Asian media and live sports," according to Emily Steel of the FINANCIAL TIMES. News Corp. will buy out the 50% interest that Disney owns in the sports media group, a 16-year-old venture that operates 28 television and broadband networks in Asia. News Corp. Deputy COO James Murdoch said the deal “continues the program of simplifying our operating model, consolidating our affiliate ownership structures, and furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe.” ESPN President John Skipper said ESPN has decided to “independently pursue future opportunities in Asia.” The transaction "underscores the strategy now being deployed by News Corp. and other major media companies to expand their business" through int'l assets and sports (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/6). In L.A., Chmielewski wrote that Disney has been "investing heavily in the Asian market," with an announcement earlier this year to take a "controlling interest in one of India's largest media companies," UTV Software Communications, a broadcaster and film studio (L.A. TIMES, 6/6). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai noted 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." 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" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.com, 6/6).