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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 10:11 GMT
ESPN 'eyes Premier League rights'
Chelsea and Sunderland battle out a Premiership match
Premiership games have massive interest worldwide.
US sports cable network ESPN is "absolutely interested" in buying the UK rights to broadcast Premier League football, its president has said.

The comments by George Bodenheimer to the Financial Times signal efforts by the network to boost its European audience, analysts say.

BSkyB and Setanta hold the UK rights to show live Premier League games until the end of the 2009/10 season.

The duo paid a record 1.7bn for the three-season contract.

BSkyB is paying about 4.8m per game and Setanta 2.8m under the deal.

The league also agreed a new 625m deal for overseas television rights, swelling the coffers of Premier League clubs.

'Top product'

Mr Bodenheimer described the league as "fabulous property" for a broadcaster to have.

"We're going to work on getting as local as we can. We want to deliver product that is relevant in each country," he told the FT.

"It's a country-by-country approach. We want to be investors wherever the top sports product is."

ESPN currently reaches about 10 million homes in Europe, but winning rights to the Premier League would encourage a much bigger take up, observers say.

It would be likely to face tough competition - with both BSkyB and Setanta seeing football as a key asset in winning and retaining subscribers.

Disney-owned ESPN has been on a spending spree, recently boosting its online sports presence by buying cricket website Cricinfo and rugby site Scrum.com.

In the US it has long-term deals to broadcast the country's three key sports - American football, baseball and basketball.



SEE ALSO
Football rights hat-trick for Sky
28 Apr 06 |  Business
Setanta joins Premiership action
05 May 06 |  Business
Premiership in new 625m TV deal
18 Jan 07 |  Business
ITV scores in FA Cup rights fight
30 Mar 07 |  Business
Sporting rivals go to extra time
25 Feb 05 |  Technology

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