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Doghead

move over Sky

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Yeah, one to keep an eye on as BT have both been rumoured to be going for both the NRL and this year's World Cup.

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It’s a big day for BT Sport with news that we have reached an agreement to acquire the ESPN and ESPN America channels in the UK and Ireland, including FA Cup, Scottish Premier League, European football and more is being added to the package of top action which will be available from this summer.

BT Group and ESPN announced today that they have agreed that BT will acquire ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV channels business. These primarily comprise the ESPN and ESPN America channels and their live sports rights portfolio, including the FA Cup, Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League, UEFA Europa League, and the German Bundesliga.

The transaction is expected to complete on July 31, 2013 after which BT will continue to operate at least one ESPN-branded channel which is expected to form part of the BT Sport TV package that will be launched by BT this summer. Additionally, the deal will allow BT to continue to show a host of US sports currently shown on ESPN America, including NCAA College Basketball, NCAA College Footballand NASCAR. The ESPN channels will be broadcast from BT Sport’s new home in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Until completion, the service for current subscribers to the ESPN channels across all television platforms remains unchanged.

The deal will enable BT Sport customers to see live coverage of the FA Cup for the 2013/14 season, the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League until the end of the 2016/17 season and the UEFA Europa League and German Bundesliga through to the end of the 2014/15 season. These join the broadcast rights that BT Sport has previously announced, including 38 live Barclays Premier League matches – including 18 of the top clashes – in each of the next three seasons (beginning August 2013); 69 live Aviva Premiership Rugby matches for the next four seasons; and up to 800 hours per season of live women’s tennis, including the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

ESPN will continue to own and operate its existing digital media businesses which include multisport news and information portal ESPN.co.uk, ESPNcricinfo (cricket), ESPNFC (football), ESPNscrum (rugby), ESPNF1 (Formula 1) and broadband streaming service ESPN Player. ESPN Classic has been excluded from the proposed transaction.

Marc Watson, chief executive of television, BT Retail, said:

“We are delighted to have reached agreement with ESPN for the acquisition of their UK channels business and that we have been able to add some exciting new sports rights to the ones we already have.

“The FA Cup, Scottish Premier League and Europa League rights will allow us to offer customers of BT Sport even more quality live football, including our first games from the Scottish top flight and our first European competition rights. There will also be the best of US sports available courtesy of this deal, which will further broaden the appeal of BT Sport.”

Ross Hair, managing director, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:

“We could not be more proud of the TV channels built and nurtured by our talented team over the past four years. The value of that hard work is reflected in this deal with BT and the continuation of ESPN on television screens across the UK and Ireland. The same passion, commitment and innovation will be at the heart of how we develop our strong digital media business into the future.”

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory clearance.

Separate from the agreement with BT, ESPN is proposing the wind down of ESPN Classic throughout the EMEA region and the non-UK ESPN America TV businesses.

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Didn't people say similar things in the past about ESPN seeing as they were backed by Disneys vast resources?

Problem for me with the existing BT package is that you need to switch to them for your broadband which will be a showstopper for me and countless others.

I guess with ESPN they have an entry point onto the Sky EPG, but that wasn't enough for ESPN to make a stab of it or others before them, be interesting to see if BT can.

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The BT channels will be on Sky, almost no doubt about it. Sky won't want their subscribers missing out on football, and I believe BT are already testing on the EPG

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The BT channels will be on Sky, almost no doubt about it. Sky won't want their subscribers missing out on football, and I believe BT are already testing on the EPG

The Saling 1 and 2 channels (445 and 447) are place holders for the new BT Sport channels, although as they're taking the ESPN channels they'll be able to use their slots on the EPG. BT might be in competition with Sky on one level, but they'll want their sports channels on the Sky EPG because it gives them access to a hell of a lot of potential customers.

I emailed IMG last week, and they mailed back to say Premier have got the NRL rights for 2013. No idea why Premier are taking their time announcing it, but it was suggested that the NRL has to make a formal announcement first. As for the WC, well I guess it depends on how much room they have on their channels with the ESPN stuff on there as well.

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The optomist in me would like to think that if SKY lose more of their control of football and other sports they might just start to see the value of Rugby League, their second highest viewed sport. Theres also the possibility that the BBC might bid to take SL from SKY and a bidding war would be great for us as long as the resulting riches are'nt squandered away like the rest of the money we've had over the last 18 years.

The pessimist in me says rhat SKY will up the anti to retain football and the result will be cuts in the offers for other sports while the BBC will use their new platform to ram their favourite pet sport down our throats.

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I'll default to my ususal position on new subscription broadcasters coming in, and that is broadly suspicious. It may well increase the value of the sport and bring more cash to the RFL, but if that is reflected in say, needing two (or more) subscriptions to see what I'm currently seeing for one (currently expensive) contract, then it won't be unalloyed joy, by any means.

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Theres also the possibility that the BBC might bid to take SL from SKY and a bidding war would be great for us as long as the resulting riches are'nt squandered away like the rest of the money we've had over the last 18 years.

It's very unlikely that the BBC will ever show a weekly team based sport like ours - at least live - in the near future. They certainly couldn't justify the amount of (public) money it would take to wrangle SL Live away from Sky anyway. It's a pipe dream and the way that the BBC is being squeezed it just isn't realistic

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It's very unlikely that the BBC will ever show a weekly team based sport like ours - at least live - in the near future. They certainly couldn't justify the amount of (public) money it would take to wrangle SL Live away from Sky anyway. It's a pipe dream and the way that the BBC is being squeezed it just isn't realistic

I don't agree, if the SKY viewing figures show that SL is the second most watched sport in their current portfolio and it's deemed to be good value per £ of investment, ie it almost washes its face in terms of attracting subscriptions and advertising, then there's a business case for aquiring the rites. My pessimism comes from their lack of support for RL irrespective of it's merits and value, they're more likely to take Premier Rugby Union and invest resources in sexing up their production or that.

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We currently get ESPN free with Virgin but I don't bother with ESPN UK as I have no interest in football. But I do like my Baseball on ESPN America, be disappointed if that gets taken off.

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"Move over Sky" is similar to what Setanta said. If ESPN haven't been successful and they have a lot of experience in the US sports TV market, I can't see how a company that is so poor at customer service on an entirely different platform will overtake Sky.

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I don't agree, if the SKY viewing figures show that SL is the second most watched sport in their current portfolio and it's deemed to be good value per £ of investment, ie it almost washes its face in terms of attracting subscriptions and advertising, then there's a business case for aquiring the rites.

None of that has anything to do with the reality of the fact that BBC really shouldn't be chasing ratings, haven't showed full matches from a team sport competition nationally week in, week out in years (even when they shared Football League Championship coverage recently they only showed 10 matches a season), or the fact the BBC Sports budget has been squeezed so dramatically that coverage of practically every sport that Auntie covers has had some aspect of their coverage slashed in the past 4/5 years. Not saying it wouldn't be nice, but I would say there was extremely little chance the BBC would ever show weekly Super League Live nationally in the next decade.

My pessimism comes from their lack of support for RL irrespective of it's merits and value, they're more likely to take Premier Rugby Union and invest resources in sexing up their production or that.

I don't know who you are talking about here - BBC or Sky. Either way, neither will be getting Premiership Union anytime soon, as it was one of BT's first aquisitions and they payed a lot of money for it too. Maybe the Beeb will get the highlights back from ITV, but then that's nothing different to what they already have in the Super League Show. There is certainly no way the BBC would pay the amount BT/Sky do for live Premiership Union either.

This comes up so often, but even the briefest glance at the reality of sports coverage on the BBC recently shows it's never going to happen, even if they were interested. Sure it would be nice, but we'll have to keep dreaming I'm afraid

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Sky isn'y just about subscriptions, though, I reckon. Its about advertinsing too. As long as the union demographics remains as it is, union will always attract higher value advertising revenue be it for Sky or for BT.

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The BT channels will be on Sky, almost no doubt about it. Sky won't want their subscribers missing out on football, and I believe BT are already testing on the EPG

Afaik they will still require customers to have a bt phone line.

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Afaik they will still require customers to have a bt phone line.

When you sign up for Sky you get a BT phone line anyway.

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Afaik they will still require customers to have a bt phone line.

You don't need a BT line to use any Sky TV Services, although I think Sky certainly prefer it that you do. My parents kept their Virgin line.

Either way, it's not really much to do with the channel and doesn't change anythinh

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"Move over Sky" is similar to what Setanta said. If ESPN haven't been successful and they have a lot of experience in the US sports TV market, I can't see how a company that is so poor at customer service on an entirely different platform will overtake Sky.

Regardless of platform BT have already made the same fundamental mistake the rest did - they've been outbid for the primary Premier League football package. Whatever else they try and do that means they've already lost.

As an aside: Are ESPN leaving the UK once their soccer rights expire?

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I have to point out,particularly to OMEGA,that rugby league really isn't the second most popular sport on Sky.It's really impossible to say which is,as it depends on the channel,the time,the game etc,but after football and Formula 1,there is basically very little between rugby league,rugby union,cricket and darts.For a particular game,rl may come out on top,whilst another week it could easily be union or cricket.

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And we never, ever feature in any generic advertising. We might tag on the end of a "what's on this month" with the other minnows. Of course we have our own 'slot', Wiggins, but not on the 'sky sports' adverts.

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As an aside: Are ESPN leaving the UK once their soccer rights expire?

Pretty much. After the Premier League finishes this year, all remaining sporting rights will transfer over to BT. The American channel is staying open too, under BT's control but I'm not sure what exact branding that will be under. The classic channel will close

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Pretty much. After the Premier League finishes this year, all remaining sporting rights will transfer over to BT. The American channel is staying open too, under BT's control but I'm not sure what exact branding that will be under. The classic channel will close

Just to be clear, ESPN will have no longer have a tv operation in the UK, but will still be running their online services here, including their popular rugby web site covering everything rugby for all fans of rugby.

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You don't need a BT line to use any Sky TV Services, although I think Sky certainly prefer it that you do. My parents kept their Virgin line.

Either way, it's not really much to do with the channel and doesn't change anythinh

Correct, nobody in the Hull (Kingston Comms) area has a BT landline.

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no way that you will require a BT phone line or BT broadband to subscribe to BT Sports. I think people are getting the existing BT Vision product mixed up with what is a new sports channel launching. No doubt there will be discounts if you lump everything in on the same package but that's up to you.

It will be on Sky - they already have two slots on there (the Sailing channels as already mentioned above) and will have more now that they're buying ESPN's slots. I also dont think they're binning ESPN America within the UK. It's ESPN America on other European satellites that's getting binned.

I think that going forward this could be great news for RL. If BT are still going toe to toe with Sky the next time the SL rights are up for grabs things could get interesting!

I also dont think you can draw comparisons to Setanta - BT Sports have financial backing way way way in excess of Setanta and also way in excess of what ESPN/Disney were prepared to throw at the UK market.

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BT I understand will be offering some of their Union coverage on FTA (Free to Air) next season. They may also take Monday Night Football (US) From the BBC . The problem for League us that rights appear to be sold as a job lot as opposed to a series of packages as is the case with other sports. The more platforms you have broadcasting your product (particularily FTA) the greater your viewership, and your commercial revenues

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