US sports network ESPN is looking to cement the forthcoming rebranding of NASN under the ESPN name with the acquisition of UK rights to Premier League football. In an interview with the Financial Times, George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN, said the company would be “absolutely interested” in bidding for the rights when the next auction takes place in 2009.
The news is not likely to go down too well with Setanta Sports, NASN’s distribution partner, which currently holds four out of the six Premier League packages and can clearly be expected to bid a second time.
Bodenheimer said ESPN was looking to deliver content that was relevant to the local market, suggesting that local sports might join the NASN mix of hockey, American football and baseball. The company has acquired the rights to beam English Test Cricket into India and was the host broadcaster for the Cricket World Cup in South Africa earlier this year, though the event was screened on Sky in the UK.
Building on the interest in cricket in the Indian market, the company has acquired the CricInfo website, as well as the world’s most popular rugby site Scrum.com.