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ESPN take over Setanta rights for broadcasting PL games

Disney-owned broadcaster ESPN have won the rights to screen all the live Premier League matches previously held by Setanta. ESPN not only outbid Sky to win both the two packages of live games for next season, 46 in all, but also the package of 23 matches per season for the 2010-13 period.

It is understood the deals will mean the top-flight clubs neither lose out nor gain financially.

ESPN's success means they can now be viewed as a potential rival for Sky for Premier League rights in the long term.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said in a statement: "The Premier League is extremely pleased to have added ESPN as a UK rights holder.

"They have a formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports and I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them.

"I would like to thank ESPN, as well as all the other broadcasters who submitted bids, for their professionalism and effort in engaging in our sales process at such short notice.

"The timescale of our process was tight to say the least, and it is to the great credit of ESPN that they committed themselves to adding Barclays Premier League football to their already impressive portfolio of sports rights.

"The speed at which we have been able to conclude this deal means that the preparations for next season will be able to continue without interruption and fans and clubs will have certainty over the broadcasting of Barclays Premier League matches for the next four seasons."

As for ESPN, the move marks their first major foray into covering British sport.

Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International, said: "Premier League football is one of the worlds most sought-after sports properties. We are very excited to be working with the Premier League and expanding our businesses in the UK.

"This move demonstrates our commitment to British sports fans and our ongoing commitment to delivering football to fans around the world across a variety of media."

ESPN said they have struck a deal with Sky for its coverage to be sold to residential and commercial customers and are in talks with other platforms including Virgin Media.

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