Thursday, June 11, 2009

ESPN Says It Has No Plans to Buy Setanta

The Guardian is reporting ESPN will not make an offer to buy Setanta.

Bad news for the Irish broadcaster. No doubt they're desperate for someone to take the debt they've incurred off their hands. Here's a bit from the Guardian piece:

However, a spokesman for ESPN, which is keen to expand its portfolio of UK sports rights, said: "We currently have no plans to buy Setanta. There are a lot of stories out there linking us with a possible purchase and we wanted to set the record straight."

ESPN was a bidder for some of the English Premier League rights, covering three seasons beginning in August 2010, when they were last auctioned off in February, but lost out to Setanta and Sky. Setanta has 23 live Premier League games a year from the 2010-2011 season.

ESPN may still be interested in acquiring these rights should Setanta go under. If that happens, they will revert to the Premier League before being auctioned off again.

The US broadcaster could also bid for the rights to 46 live games owned by Setanta as part of its current three-year contract with the Premier League, which has one more year to run. If Setanta folds, those rights will also revert to the Premier League and be resold.

That last paragraph is the key. ESPN is lying in wait to scoop up those rights once they're resold. Football in HD here we come.

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