ESPN Makes 'Quiet' Exit From England While Leaving Behind Little Legacy
ESPN will always be "The Little Channel That Could" in England even as it "prepares to pack its bags and head home after four years of poking around looking eager," according to Jonathan Liew of the London TELEGRAPH. This "may seem odd given the scale and global reach of the ESPN megalith." However, "wedged between the rock of Sky Sports and the hard place of parent company Walt Disney," which gave up on its loss-making progeny long ago, the British incarnation of ESPN "somehow managed to cast itself in the role of the ballsy insurgent." That it ultimately failed to topple Sky "does not make it a failure per se, when you consider what happened to its predecessors." Setanta "went into administration with nine-figure debts." ITV Digital "went bust and almost took the entire Football League with it." So, "a quiet, dignified exit," with BT Sport taking on ESPN’s remaining contracts and its TV channel, "might actually be a small success." What "will its legacy be?" The most abiding memory of ESPN "will not be its coverage of the Premier League or the Bundesliga or the NBA." It will, instead, be ESPN Classic, a "glorious, sequestered gem of a channel whose primary function was to ensure that whatever time you switched your television on, there would always be something to watch" (TELEGRAPH, 5/20).