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Update Revamped ESPN channel may show EPL - 28-June-2009, 02:50

Revamped ESPN channel may show EPL

ESPN may launch a revamped version of its ESPN America channel to show the recently secured Premier League matches, DS has learned.

It was announced on Monday that the Disney-owned firm had acquired the Premier League rights previously owned by collapsed Irish broadcaster Setanta.

Damion Potter, ESPN communications director for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim, described the win as a "huge step for our business in the UK".

He added: "We said we were interested in building our business here; that is exactly what we will do with this acquisition.

"We look forward to working with the Premier League, football clubs and distributors to bring English sports fans high-quality coverage of their favourite teams."

A deal is already in place with Sky to distribute the matches to residential and commercial customers on an a la carte basis.

Meanwhile, the company is also talking to the other platform holders, including Virgin Media, about retail partnerships.

It has previously been suggested that ESPN plans to launch a new standalone channel for broadcasting the games.

However, DS has learned that this is just one possible solution, with the other being to host the matches on a revamped version of ESPN America.

Following the demise of Setanta, the channel will continue running on a standalone basis on Virgin Media, while Sky will offer it as part of the News and Events television pack.

Despite this, the arrangement is just an interim solution to ensure seamless access to the channel's US sports coverage for viewers.

"We have come to this interim solution to make sure that US sports fans and existing subscribers to ESPN America can continue to enjoy watching the channel whilst we make permanent arrangements," said Potter.

The company is currently discussing firmer plans for the future of ESPN America, with a vehicle for Premier League games believed to be among the options.

On the possibility of ESPN bidding for other sports rights, including Scottish Premier League games, Potter reiterated: "We're interested in rights where they are available and they make business sense."

He also said that the firm has "met with a number of production companies" about covering the Premier League matches ahead of the start of the new season in eight weeks.

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