Had a good talk with the folks at the "Leader" yesterday, and I wanted to write this post so you and I could better understand what the plan and outlook is for ESPN Soccer in the future. The other day, BSkyB snagged up four of the six "international" packages, which each consist of 23 games for a network to air. That left two packages, with a total of forty six games.
Well according to the English Premier League, BSkyB grabbed yet another set of games today and the final one went to Setanta, leaving ESPN empty handed. Via EPL Talk....
The Premier League has announced that out of the six TV packages available for bidding in the UK for the 2010-2013 seasons, Sky Sports won five of those packages with Setanta getting the sixth and final one. That means that ESPN’s attempt to bid on the rights ended in failure — in the UK, at least.Now that is certainly a downer for ESPN, who is looking to beef up their European presence, but not all is lost. Like I mentioned above, those packages were just for "international rights", and do not include the United States packages. Fox Sports, Setanta and ESPN, should be the major players for that three-year deal, but there's yet another caveat.
This is a huge win for Sky Sports who have increased their number of packages from four (for the 2007-2010 seasons) to five. Setanta Sports will be showing less games because they’ll be moving from two packages (2007-2010 seasons) to one. But the biggest loser is ESPN who despite a lot of the chatter about the Disney-owned company making an aggressive raid on rights to the UK EPL TV market ended up empty handed.
Based on the BCS bidding, everyone knows ESPN has the money to outbid Fox Sports, but the economy and game times could make the "Leader" weary in making a huge bid. Due to the time difference from England to the U.S., the majority of EPL games are played early on the weekends. As you know, that's quite possibly the worst timeslot for Sports, and might not even be worth the purchase of the rights.
It's a tough spot to be in for ESPN, who obviously wants to get in the Soccer game, but does the reward ultimately outweigh the risk? We'll find out soon, as the bidding for U.S. right should get underway shortly.
ESPN Loses Premier League UK TV Rights Battle (EPL Talk)