The fact that ESPN bids for US Premier League rights is hardly an earth shattering revelation. However, it is confirmation that the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader of Sports means business.
The bidding war is almost over for the rights to the Premier League for the 2022/23 through 2027/28 seasons. As a result, an announcement is expected later this week. Leading contenders for the rights include FOX Sports, CBS Sports and NBC Sports. And, of course, ESPN. In fact, a top-level executive at ESPN confirmed that the broadcaster has placed a bid for the rights.
Speaking in New York City, ESPN President of Programming & Original Content Burke Magnus confirmed the bid:
“Soccer has been really a tentpole for ESPN+ from the very first day. That and UFC have been the two categories that we have ‘sunk our teeth into’ from the beginning.
“[The Premier League rights] haven’t been available until now. So, we ran our process. We did it with discipline. We’ll see [what happens]. [We’ve had] good conversations. We hope we understand what they were looking for as part of the process. And [I’m] excited to see where it goes.”
Magnus made the announcement during a SBJ Media Innovators conference on Tuesday.
Final bids for the 2022/23 through 2027/28 U.S. rights closed on Monday. Bids were presented to the chairpersons of the Premier League at their shareholder meeting on Thursday.
The auction for the bids has now entered a second round of bidding. An announcement is expected next week.
NBC Sports’ current deal for the Premier League ends May 2022.
ESPN bids for U.S. Premier League rights: Analysis
When asked whether ESPN had placed a bid for the rights to the Premier League, Magnus’s first answer was revealing. The first thing he began talking about was how soccer has been so successful on ESPN+. Undoubtedly, if ESPN is able to win the rights to the Premier League, ESPN+ will be a major part of the strategy.
In addition to discussing ESPN+, Magnus spoke about the breadth of distribution that ESPN offers. Everything from social media to broadcast networks to digital, as well as the Walt Disney Company, ESPN really ticks all of the boxes.
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