ESPN has given details of its new premium channel for the UK market, the centrepiece of which will be the Disney-owned broadcaster’s recently acquired rights to the English Premier League.
Launching on August 3, and known simply as ESPN, the channel will be available in both standard and high definition. Broadband TV News understands that the HD channel may be delayed into early September due to the relatively short period of time ESPN has been given to put the channel in place.
In addition to the Premier League, ESPN will also carry international sports, and premium US events that were previously carried on ESPN America, which will be integrated into the new channel. “We feel this works for sports fans as time differences of the sport we will show means we will have a truly 24/7 Live sports channel,” a spokesman for ESPN told Broadband TV News. He added that ESPN America would continue to air in over 40 countries in continental Europe and another 19 across the Middle East. ESPN also runs its broadband TV service ESPN360, which carries a number of live and as live American sports.
Lynne Frank, managing director, ESPN for Europe, Middle East and Africa, commented: “We hope football and sports fans will enjoy ESPN’s compelling mix of Barclays Premier League football, international sports and the best of the US sports in both SD and HD. We look forward to working with Sky to deliver great sports content to their subscribers and will continue our discussions with all other pay-TV providers so that we can bring ESPN to as many sports fans in the UK as possible.”
ESPN America is currently carried by Virgin Media and Top Up TV has temporarily added the channel following the closure of Setanta Sports.
In Sky homes ESPN will take the 417 EPG position currently held by ESPN America, while the HD version will appear on the currently unoccupied channel 443. Existing Sky Sports subscribers will be able to receive ESPN for an additional £9 per month while other Sky subscribers can add the channel for £12. The HD version will be available at no extra cost to ESPN subscribers already paying the £10 monthly fee for the Sky HD pack.
ESPN Classic will continue to broadcast on channel 442 and remains in the News and Events Pack. Sky commercial customers will receive the new channel as part of the ‘Ultimate’ channel pack at no extra cost.
ESPN has sub contracted coverage of the Premier League to Sky’s in house production team, although it will use ESPN graphics, and be packaged with ESPN analysis. Sky will also be responsible for the channel’s advertising sales.