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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 27, 2013

ESPN's UK and Ireland Television Channels Acquired by BT

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

BT Group, a British multinational telecommunications services company, headquartered in London, is in the process of acquiring the businesses of ESPN’s (News - Alert) UK and Ireland TV channels.

BT will now primarily own ESPN and ESPN America channels which will include Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League, FA Cup, German Bundesliga and Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League.

Touted as the world’s biggest multimedia sports entertainment company ESPN, Inc., has a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets

Transactions will be completed by July 31, 2013. After that BT (News - Alert) will include at least one ESPN branded channel in the BT Sport TV package which will be launched this summer. The company will be able to show a host of U.S. sports programs currently shown on ESPN America such as NASCAR, NCAA College Football and NCAA College Basketball. Until the completion of the deals, the services to ESPN’s current subscribers remain unchanged.

In addition, BT Sport customers will now be able to see the FA Cup for the 2013/14 season, the whole of 2014/15 seasons of UEFA Europa League and German Bundesliga and the 2016/17 season of Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League. They would also be able to watch up to 800 hours of live women’s tennis per season and the WTA Championships. Live telecasts of 38 Barclays Premier League matches will begin in August 2013 in each season for the next three seasons as well as 69 live Aviva Premiership Rugby matches for the next four  seasons will be included in BT’s offering.

ESPN’s digital media business that includes; the ESPN portal, ESPNFC (football), ESPNcricinfo (cricket), ESPNF1 (Formula 1), ESPNscrum (rugby) and the broadband streaming service ESPN Player will continued to be operated by ESPN.

Marc Watson, chief executive of television, BT Retail expressed delight in the agreement with ESPN with respect to the acquiring of the U.K. channel business. He added that this would enable hi firm to add some exciting new channels to its menu, only increasing the overall appeal of BT Sport.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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