Virgin Media and ESPN have reached agreement on the carriage of the broadcaster’s SD and HD channels in time for the start of the new Premier League season.
The ESPN channels, ESPN, ESPN HD and ESPN Classic will be available at no extra cost to subscribers to Virgin’s big basic XL tier. The deal replicates the arrangement held with Setanta Sports prior to its GB business entering administration.
Subscribers on Virgin’s mid-range M or L tiers will still receive ESPN Classic and can subscribe to the premium channels for an additional £8 per month, in combination with the Sky Sports channels, or £10 as a standalone option. This represents a saving to Virgin subscribers of £1 or £2 respectively on the cost of subscribing to ESPN through the Sky satellite service.
ESPN is restyling its ESPN America channel as ESPN with effect from August 3. In addition to live coverage of the English and Scottish premier leagues, the Disney-owned broadcaster has also secured coverage of German, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch league football, and the US Major League Soccer. As an introduction to the channel Virgin will be providing both ESPN and ESPN HD free-of charge to all digital TV customers throughout August.
ESPN HD will be the sixth HD channel for Virgin Media in addition to BBC HD and Living HD, FX HD, MTVNHD and National Geographic HD that are due to be added to the cablenet’s line-up before the end of July.