ESPN To Cease Broadcasting In Israel By End Of Month, Will Focus On Digital Syndication
ESPN announced on Monday that "it will cease broadcasting in Israel at the end of the month," according to Andrew Esensten of HAARETZ. Israel's cable and satellite providers, HOT and YES, "confirmed the news." In a statement, ESPN said that "it had decided to stop broadcasting across the Middle East and Africa." The statement said, "This was a strategic business decision made by ESPN. At this point in time, ESPN will focus on its digital and content syndication businesses in the EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] region." The announcement comes as a blow to local fans of American sports -- including football and baseball, which are not widely broadcast in Israel -- and of the network's popular news and analysis programs, including "SportsCenter" and "Pardon the Interruption." Juan Iglesias, owner of the Mike's Place restaurant and sports bar on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, said that "all Mike's Place franchises will continue to broadcast sporting events carried by ESPN because they receive the network's American feed via satellite." However, he said, "On a personal level, it sucks. I like to wake up in the morning and watch 'SportsCenter'" (HAARETZ, 7/23).