Does ESPN Have What It Takes To Win UK Premier League TV Rights?


In the next 24 hours, we’ll find out if the future of Premier League TV coverage will change forever. Sky Sports has already won the bids for the first four of six packages made available by the Premier League for TV coverage from 2010-2013 for an estimated £1.3 billion. By Thursday night, we’ll learn whether ESPN or Setanta Sports will capture the two remaining packages, or will win the bid for one of them if Sky Sports is able to extend its packages from four to five out of the six.

The decision will have a massive impact on Setanta Sports. Will the Irish broadcaster remain a force to be reckoned with in UK television, or will ESPN manage to squeeze in and land the remaining packages, which would send shockwaves around the world.

On Thursday, journalist Jamie Trecker wrote that the win for Sky Sports was a potential win for Fox Soccer Channel in the TV rights battle in the United States. I have to disagree wholeheartedly. The agreement in the UK has little to no influence on the bidding in the United States. The TV rights for the US will be decided after the UK bidding concludes. If ESPN wants to win the TV rights deal for coverage in the US, it has just as much of a chance of winning it as does Fox Soccer Channel or Setanta Sports USA.

What do you guys think? Who will win the bids to the final two TV packages in the UK? Click the comments link below and let us know.

2 thoughts on “Does ESPN Have What It Takes To Win UK Premier League TV Rights?”

  1. I have a suspicion that if ESPN really wants EPL football, they'll get it. Simple as. The questions for us are:
    how will that look on our TVs? Will ESPN give it the proper treatment, or will matches get bumped around for baseball and Football? Will matches get dumped o ESPN2, thus making it harder to catch your non-glamour club play?

    What happens to MLS? Does ESPN ditch it because they have the big boys now, will people see the big boys and dismiss the MLS as a weak sister, or will more mainstream generate enough interest that people want to keep watching football year-round?

    I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic on this one.


  2. If ESPN is going to dip its toe into broadcasting the Premiership it will be on ESPN 2 as I just don't see the network pre-empting the Saturday Morning Live SportsCenter and College Football Gameday in the fall months as well as the Sunday Morning Live SportsCenter with the highlights from Sauturdays, Outside the Lines, the Sports Reporters, and most importantly the 2 hour NFL pre-game show during the fall as well.

    The game start times in Europe especially if ESPN 2 goes after the 7:30am and 10am games on Saturday's and the games on Sunday Mornings and Monday afternoon don't go head to head against baseball and football here in the States. ESPN broadcasts baseball on Sunday Nights with a game of the week and their college football and basketball coverage doesn't start till noon Eastern on the weekend. I don't see ESPN having any interest in the noon Saturday Game because there are so many college football games and basketball games going on from September to March. The 11am game on Sunday might be an issue but most of the time ESPN 2 shows oddball sports like bowling and Janet the Spider Lee playing pool on Sunday afternoons.

    One rumor that I have read that I would love to be confirmed or denied is that when ESPN signed deals with the different cable companies across America a rider was put in that ESPN Classic could only show 10 hours of live sporting events a week protecting Comcast and other local cable companies that also have sports networks that they own and operate from having to compete with more ESPN live sports programming. I have read on forums the idea of ditching the ESPN Classic idea and turning the network to ESPN 3 but that would be severely hampered if they could only show 10 hours of live programming a week.

    One thing to think about when pondering if ESPN 2 were to make a move for the Premiership Rights is would they move their hunting, fishing, outdoors, and fitness shows that do really well in terms of selling commercials/advertisements to an ESPN Classic which doesn't get as many eyeballs when ESPN can't make as much money with the Premiership because the cost of the rights and lack of commercials built into the game on the weekends.. As much as I could care less about those hunting, fishing, outdoors, and fitness shows they do make money for ESPN because companies in those industries buy up time during those shows to hawk their wares and would they be willing to do so on an ESPN Classic which has moved to digital cable from basic cable the past couple of years since ESPN 2 is on most basic cable systems.

    I would really love to know if it is true that ESPN Classic is limited in how much live content they can show on ESPN Classic because I could see the people at ESPN rather putting soccer on ESPN Classic than ESPN 2 just because of the lack of money making opportunities there is in selling soccer here in the states without the commercial time to work with since ESPN 2 is in more homes and the network can make more money selling Bows, fishing lures, and workout videos than they would with the limited amount of c ommercial time available during an Premiership game.

    Just smething to chew on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *