UPDATED: Ian Darke and Steve McManaman were announced this morning as two of the talents that BT Sport has hired to bring its Premier League coverage to viewers in the United Kingdom beginning with the 2013-14 season.
Darke and Darren Fletcher will commentate matches for BT Sport with co-commentator Michael Owen. McManaman will be one of the pundits BT Sport will be using next season alongside Owen Hargreaves, David James and Rio Ferdinand.
While Darke and McManaman will be working for BT Sport, the two will continue working for ESPN. Darke remains ESPN’s English-language play-by-play commentator for US Men’s National Team games, the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
“We welcome his agreement with BT Sport for Premier League matches in United Kingdom and Ireland, and we are pleased to continue to have him as the voice of our marquee soccer events in the United States,” said an ESPN spokesperson.
McManaman is a major part of ESPN’s soccer studio team and will be featured during their presentation of the 2013 Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
“His agreement with BT Sport in the United Kingdom and Ireland will give him an opportunity to remain engaged in the sport year-round,” added the spokesperson.
FOX Soccer lost the TV rights to the English Premier League for 2013-16. In the bidding last autumn, FOX Sports and ESPN put in a joint bid but were outbid by NBC Sports Group.
For soccer viewers in the United States who have been accustomed to watching Darke and McManaman on Saturday mornings, Monday afternoons and occasional mid-week games, those soccer viewers will have a whole new set of personalities to watch each week beginning this August on NBC Sports.
ESPN has US media rights to the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Rounding out their coverage, BT Sport have also hired Jake Humphrey, Mark Halsey, Des Kelly, Clare Balding, Tim Lovejoy and Ray Stubbs.
Several Premier League footballers have also been hired to promote BT Sports’ coverage.
As part of BT Sports’ announcement today, the new TV network that will be competing with Sky Sports beginning this summer plans on providing BT broadband customers in the United Kingdom with free access to Premier League matches.