via press release:
ESPN Announces Plan for New UK Channel
ESPN to Launch its First High Definition Channel in Europe
ESPN and BSkyB Confirm Distribution, Retail and Ad Sales Deals
ESPN plan to launch a new channel in the UK on 3rd August called ‘ESPN,’ which will televise 46 Barclays Premier League matches this coming season, it was announced today by Lynne Frank, Managing Director, ESPN for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Frank also announced the channel will be made available in both standard definition (SD) and high-definition (HD), making the UK based premium sports channel the company’s first HD channel in Europe.
The new channel will offer live Barclays Premier League football, international sports and a wide-range of premium U.S. sports previously provided on ESPN America, which will be integrated in the UK into the new channel.
As part of the new arrangement, Sky will retail ESPN to both its residential and commercial customers. Sky will make ESPN available on a premium subscription basis to all Sky homes. This means that all live Barclays Premier League matches will be available in HD to Sky homes. ESPN will appear in the Sky Guide at channel number 417 in SD and channel 443 in HD.
ESPN Classic (Sky Guide 442), which showcases the greatest moments in sport, will remain within the ‘News and Events’ pack. For Sky’s commercial customers, all ESPN channels will be included within Sky’s ‘Ultimate’ channel pack. ESPN HD will be available at no extra cost to those who subscribe to ESPN and have Sky’s HD Pack. Sky has confirmed that Sky Sports subscribers will be able to subscribe to ESPN for £9 per month while other Sky customers will be able to subscribe from £12 per month.
ESPN will contract Sky Sports’ in-house production team to produce its Premier League matches. The coverage will utilise dedicated ESPN graphics and analysis. ESPN plan to create original studio shows to support their Barclays Premier League matches and other sports coverage. Further details on ESPN’s production, including studio analysts and commentators, will be announced in due course.
In addition, Sky Media, Sky’s ad sales house, will sell advertising inventory for both ESPN and ESPN Classic.
Lynne Frank, Managing Director, ESPN for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “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.”
Mike Darcey, Sky’s Chief Operating Officer, adds: “Our agreement with ESPN to retail its portfolio of sports channels ensures that we have certainty of distribution of all live Premier League matches to Sky homes, and further adds to the high-quality sports content our customers can enjoy, both in standard- and high-definition. We are also delighted to provide support in the form of production, advertising sales and commercial retailing.”