ESPN To Acquire Premier League TV Rights? Roundtable Discussion


According to a recent article in The Times newspaper, the Walt Disney Company has expressed an interest in bidding for the TV rights to the Premier League in the United Kingdom and United States. The next auction of broadcast rights is due to start next January for the 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.

If ESPN wins the broadcast rights, the impact will be huge for soccer fans in the UK and US. At EPL Talk, we decided to ask our fellow bloggers to examine what an ESPN soccer world would look like in this roundtable discussion:

Richard Whittall: Much has been promised in the long and dubious history of soccer-promotion in the United States, but getting European club football on a major US sports network is probably the only way to finally break through the infamous ‘American exception.’  The best example comes from your friendly northern neighbours. While local media were quick to attribute Toronto FC’s success to the multicultural make-up of the city, the real reason had to do with the fact that European club football had been available on basic cable for several decades (something I wrote about shortly after Euro 2008). Younger sports fans discovered the game by chance, and when TFC came to town they were more than happy to get a taste of club football for themselves. Forcing fans of the game to order specialty channels makes a good buck but does nothing to grow your audience. Club football has a universal appeal, and exposing uninitiated fans to the European game will do more for American soccer than the World Cup, NASL or MLS ever could; it could be the breakthrough soccer converts have been waiting for.

Jeffrey Hash: It’s not a stunning admission to me. ESPN has been talking about expanding internationally, and the acquisition of rights to the Twenty20 Champions League in cricket worldwide or the North American Sports Network, which is to be rebranded ESPN in Europe, show they are looking outward. The issue is how deep into their pockets will they go to take on two broadcasters with paying subscribers backing up their wallets and a league that doesn’t need the ESPN machine to build its name. Unless ESPN is willing to stomach a sizable initial loss to muscle its way in, I expect this will end up being more talk than action.

Michael James: A successful bid by ESPN for TV rights to the Premier League here in the US would be the next, necessary step towards growing soccer in this country. MLS certainly isn’t going to accomplish that, and Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta aren’t in enough households to do it either. When ESPN televises something, any sport, they do it right, and they spare no expense. They’d cover the Premier League well enough for hardcore soccer fans here but simplify it enough for newcomers to be able to pick up the game. I think this would be a huge move in the right direction.

Juan Arango: My opinion would be that it’s not a bad thing. They are making a real push to become a real player worldwide in football. What they did in Euro 2008 was a big first step towards what they want to do in the long term. That plus their exclusivity with the Champions League is going to be crucial. Fox Soccer Channel could be in hot water if they decide to rival them here in the States. There is still talk of ESPN Classic becoming more of a soccer network, per se and that can’t be done without the Premiership.

The Gaffer: While I agree with many of the opinions mentioned above, the one thing I have a very difficult time is picturing a scenario in the United Kingdom where Sky Sports would be playing second fiddle. If it wasn’t for Sky, the Premier League wouldn’t be where they are today — for better or for worse. I can see both ESPN and Sky Sports sharing the rights to football in the UK, which could drive Setanta Sports out of business. In the United States, I predict we’ll end up with ESPN owning the rights and showing the big games, while Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports will show the other games.

What do you think? Share your opinion by clicking the comments link below. Thanks to Juan Arango for the idea for this roundtable discussion.

10 thoughts on “ESPN To Acquire Premier League TV Rights? Roundtable Discussion”

  1. Seems like the best answer is for ESPN to buy Setanta. They will then get an immediate EPL presence in the UK and US. Seems like a no brainer. Setanta US also has the early games on Sunday and Saturday which could work well with their fall US football schedule, College Football Saturday and NFL preview shows on Sunday.

  2. Maybe its just my GolTV withdrawal, after DISH pulled it from me, but I think 1st and foremost they need to get some involvement with the EPL, but to follow that up with a La Liga, could be huge….Fox has Italy as well as the EPL and Setanta has everything else European. They could pick up 2 big leagues, with both a ex pat and Latin American draw, and firmly entrench themselves into the soccer landscape. If I recall correctly La Liga's rights are coming up soon, though GolTV, will be very reluctant to lose those.

  3. just please keep english/british commentators….if i have to listen to marcelo balboa call an EPL came,i may just have to stop supporting the league.

  4. Has the US tv rights for the Barclay’s been established as of yet? I have seen nothing since Fox Soccer got the Champion League’s rights? Anyone?

    1. Hi Nick,

      The bidding for the US TV rights to the Premier League haven’t been finalized yet. It’s going to be a while. But you’ll hear about it first on EPL Talk.

      The Gaffer

  5. Hey Gaffer :)

    Do you happen to know if there will be any changes in terms of tv rights in the U.S. for the premiership next season ?

    If fsc are still going to have exclusive rights … do you know when that deal expires ? The quality of ESPN’s HD feeds are on a whole different planet to fsc’s and so i was really hoping there could be a potential switch in the rights in that respect.

    1. Wayne, Fox still owns the Premier League TV rights in the States, but have sub-licensed many of the games to ESPN. ESPN will be showing more Premier League games in the 2010-11 season than ever before but the majority will be shown by Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Plus.

      The Gaffer

  6. Guten Tag, meine Wenigkeit moechte nun auch das Internet nutzen um Erfahrungen in ein paar harmlose Saetze zu einem neuen Magazin zu publizieren. Es heisst WIN! das Fachmagazin fuer Gewinner und wird vom Fokus Gewinn Verlag herausgegeben.

    Zunaechst war ich etwas erstaunt ueber den stolzen Preis von immerhin noch 9 Euro im Abonnement, doch gleich darauf ist mir eine andere Zahl ins Auge gesprungen, die den Kaufpreis relativiert. Da preist das Magazin auf der Titelseite doch tatsaechlich Gewinnchancen im Wert von ueber 2 Millionen Euro an. Nun gut, der Lottojackpot ist manchmal hoeher, doch handelt es sich in WIN! um 90 Gewinnspiele, an denen online oder per Postkarteneinsendung teilgenommen werden kann. Rein rechnerisch ist die Gewinnwahrscheinlichkeit bedeutend hoeher als bei jedem anderen Gluecksspiel. Desweiteren kann ich die Wahrscheinlichkeit fuer einen Gewinn auch steuern, in dem ich z.B. mehrmals eine Postkarte absende, oder mir bei der Karte besonders Muehe gebe. Ich ziehe mal den Vergleich mit einem komplett ausgefuellten Lottoschein. Mit allen 12 Feldern, Spiel 77, Super 6 und Gluecksspirale zahle ich knapp 18 Euro. Die Chancen um bei Lotto den Jackpot zu knacken liegen bei 1 zu 139.838.160. Kurzum sehr gering. WIN! das Fachmagazin fuer Gewinner bietet mir nun 50 Gewinnspiele an denen ich kostenlos teilnehmen kann und dazu noch 30 fertige Postkarten zum Versenden. Ich habe nun nach der Auflagenstaerke recherchiert und bin auf ca. 100.000 gestossen. Also selbst wenn alle WIN! Leser bei allen Gewinnspielen mit machen wuerden, haette ich immer noch eine Gewinnchance von 1:100.000 Das ist um 1000 Prozent mehr als bei Lotto, oder?
    Eine andere Denkweise sagt mir, dass ich fuer 90 Gewinnspiele im Monat im Wert von ueber 2 Millionen Euro mindestens 30 einzelne Heftchen mit Gewinnspielen kaufen muesste zum Preis von durchschnittlich 1,50 Euro. Dann haette ich allein fuer die Hefte Ausgaben von 45 Euro. Hinzu kommt nun die Arbeitszeit zum Raetselloesen. Ich berechne meine Arbeitsstunde als Rentner selbstlos mal mit 8 Euro. Wenn ich flott bin, dann brauche ich pro Raetsel 15 Minuten. Ich loese also 4 Raetsel in einer Stunden. Nach Adam Riese macht das 22,5 Stunden zum Loesen von 90 Raetsel. Meine Arbeitszeit waere dann also 180 Euro. Nun bin ich schon bei 45 Euro + 180 Euro = 225 Euro. Jetzt kommen noch die Postkarten, die nachtuerlich auch Kleingeld kosten.
    Nach diesem langen und komplizieten Rechenweg, komme ich zu dem Entschluss, dass 9 Euro im Abonnement und 12 Euro am Kiosk ein mehr als fairer Preis ist, wenn man ihn mit den Gewinnchancen und den vorgegebenen Loesungen gewichtet. Die Artikel bekommt man ja schon fast gratis mit dazu.
    Wenn ich mir die Frauenzeitschriften von meiner Ehefrau anschaue, dann entdeckte ich Preise von 5,50 Euro und mehr. Die Haelfte ist dann aber leider Werbung oder Firlefanz wie Artikel ueber Schuhe.

    Ich bedanke mich fuer die Aufmerksamkeit der Internetbenutzer und ebenfalls beim Fokus Gewinn Verlag fuer das WIN! Magazin.


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