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    BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

    This is a discussion on BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels within the Entertainment forums, part of the Community channel category; BBC News - BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels BT has agreed to buy ESPN's UK and Ireland ...

    1. #1
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      BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      BBC News - BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels
      BT has agreed to buy ESPN's UK and Ireland TV channels as it adds to its live
      sports coverage.


      The deal sees BT acquire the ESPN and ESPN America channels, and their live rights to show FA Cup, Scottish Premier League, Uefa Europa League, and German Bundesliga matches.

      The company will launch its BT Sport TV package in the summer.

      BT had already secured the rights to show live English Premier League games for the first time, from next season.

      The BT deal creates a bigger competitor for BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster that has increased its number of UK subscribers to 10 million on the back of sports rights.

      BT already offers a broadcasting package through its BT Vision pay-TV offering. The ESPN deal is seen as a way to drive customers for BT Vision, which currently has about 700,000 subscribers.

      The UK telecoms firm has been investing heavily in its sports offering, including buying the rights to show live Aviva Premiership rugby union matches and a deal with the WTA to show women's tennis.

      It has taken on some big-name sports presenters including Jake Humphrey, who led the BBC's Formula One coverage, and Clare Balding who presented horse racing and Olympics coverage for the BBC.

      After last year's auction of Premier League rights, which raised more than £3bn, ESPN was left with no rights to show live matches after the 2012-13 season.

      The package went for 70% more than the previous one, with BSkyB agreeing to pay £2.28bn for the rights to 116 games per season from 2013-14 to 2015-16. BT, meanwhile, agreed to pay £736m for the rights to 38 games per season over the three-year period.

      BT will base its new sports channels in the Olympic park in east London

      New package
      The ESPN deal is expected to be completed at the end of July. After that BT said it would continue to operate at least one ESPN-branded channel as part of its new sports package.
      ESPN channels will broadcast from BT Sport's new facilities at the Olympic Park in Stratford.

      "We are delighted to have reached agreement with ESPN for the acquisition of their UK channels business and that we have been able to add some exciting new sports rights to the ones we already have," said Marc Watson, chief executive of television, BT Retail.

      "The FA Cup, Scottish Premier League and Europa League rights will allow us to offer customers of BT Sport even more quality live football, including our first games from the Scottish top flight and our first European competition rights."

      The deal will also see BT continue to show the US sports currently shown on ESPN America, which includes college basketball, college football and Nascar racing.

      Ross Hair, ESPN's managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "We could not be more proud of the TV channels built and nurtured by our talented team over the past four years.

      "The value of that hard work is reflected in this deal with BT and the continuation of ESPN on television screens across the UK and Ireland."

      The deal does not include ESPN Classic, which will be wound down.


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    3. #2
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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      BT Press Releases
      BT Group acquires ESPN’s UK and Ireland television channels business

      BT Group and ESPN announced today that they have agreed that BT will acquire ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV channels business. These primarily comprise the ESPN and ESPN America channels and their live sports rights portfolio, including the FA Cup, Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League, UEFA Europa League, and the German Bundesliga.

      The transaction is expected to complete on July 31, 2013 after which BT will continue to operate at least one ESPN-branded channel which is expected to form part of the BT Sport TV package that will be launched by BT this summer. Additionally, the deal will allow BT to continue to show a host of US sports currently shown on ESPN America, including NCAA College Basketball, NCAA College Football and NASCAR. The ESPN channels will be broadcast from BT Sport’s new home in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. Until completion, the service for current subscribers to the ESPN channels across all television platforms remains unchanged.

      The deal will enable BT Sport customers to see live coverage of the FA Cup for the 2013/14 season, the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League until the end of the 2016/17 season and the UEFA Europa League and German Bundesliga through to the end of the 2014/15 season. These join the broadcast rights that BT Sport has previously announced, including 38 live Barclays Premier League matches - including 18 of the top clashes - in each of the next three seasons (beginning August 2013); 69 live Aviva Premiership Rugby matches for the next four seasons; and up to 800 hours per season of live women’s tennis, including the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships.

      ESPN will continue to own and operate its existing digital media businesses which include multisport news and information portal ESPN.co.uk, ESPNcricinfo (cricket), ESPNFC (football), ESPNscrum (rugby), ESPNF1 (Formula 1) and broadband streaming service ESPN Player. ESPN Classic has been excluded from the proposed transaction.

      Marc Watson, chief executive of television, BT Retail, said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement with ESPN for the acquisition of their UK channels business and that we have been able to add some exciting new sports rights to the ones we already have.

      “The FA Cup, Scottish Premier League and Europa League rights will allow us to offer customers of BT Sport even more quality live football, including our first games from the Scottish top flight and our first European competition rights. There will also be the best of US sports available courtesy of this deal, which will further broaden the appeal of BT Sport.”

      Ross Hair, managing director, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We could not be more proud of the TV channels built and nurtured by our talented team over the past four years. The value of that hard work is reflected in this deal with BT and the continuation of ESPN on television screens across the UK and Ireland. The same passion, commitment and innovation will be at the heart of how we develop our strong digital media business into the future.”

      Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory clearance.

      Separate from the agreement with BT, ESPN is proposing the wind down of ESPN Classic throughout the EMEA region and the non-UK ESPN America TV businesses.

      About ESPN
      ESPN, Inc., is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of eight U.S. 24-hour television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3D and Longhorn Network) and five HD simulcast services (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN Deportes). Other businesses include ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (35 networks, syndication, radio, digital), ESPN Radio (broadcast, satellite, digital, a growing category led by ScoreCenter), ESPN.com (plus a variety of sport-, college-, and market-specific sites), ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises and espnW. Multi-screen offerings include WatchESPN (access to several ESPN networks online and via an app), ESPN3 (live multi-screen network available online, on the go and via Xbox LIVE) and ESPN Mobile (mobile Web, mobile TV and video, apps, alerts and messaging). Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

      About ESPN International

      ESPN International is a division of ESPN, Inc., which has grown to include ownership — in whole or in part — of 35 television networks outside of the United States, as well as a variety of additional businesses that allow ESPN to reach sports fans in over 184 countries and territories across all seven continents. ESPN International business entities include television, radio, print, internet, broadband, wireless, consumer products, and event management. The company and its holdings maintain offices or production facilities in key locations around the world including Bangalore, Buenos Aires, London, Mexico City, Miami, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, and Toronto. Since 1983, ESPN (founded in Bristol, Connecticut, in 1979) has grown around the world, establishing itself as the leading global sports media brand. The company’s philosophy to global growth is to always serve sports fans and be locally relevant to them, with content and products that tap into their great passion and dedication.

      In the UK and Ireland, ESPN and ESPN America bring sports to 3.5 million households.

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      BT are dividing the market to a point where fragmentation might kill it. BT+ESPN will have a substantial wedge of events and most importantly a lot of high profile Football. Sky have lost quite a bit of their dominance especially on Premier League coverage. Whilst Sky Sports viewers could ignore ESPN as a minor irritant the advent of BT as a serious supplier will be very different. As the coverage of Premier League football will be split with Sky having less then what happens to Sky's pricing? For full coverage one will need a Sky+BT subscription and that will mean a substantial increase in the total cost - maybe twice the current level. Will the average sports fan effectively pay twice for what they have historically only paid once for? My own view is I won't, so rather than deciding whether to have Sky, BT or Sky+BT I will add a further option of none of them. Sport on TV has a value and the current changes mean the total cost of Sport will outweigh its value to a substantial proportion of current viewers. In its greed the Premier League may have found a way to kill their massive cash generating product and have achieved the almost impossible defeat from what has been an overwhelming victory.

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      There will certainly be some challenges ahead for all the providers.

      When Channel 5 launched they managed to get the rights to some major games right from under the noses of everyone else at the time.

      What is unclear is whether BT will now push to broadcast via Satellite & cable as well as via Freeview and over the broadband connection.

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      BT may well act as the owner of the rights but use ITV to convert these rights into broadcasts. Not that they will appear on ITV channels for free but ITV will supply their extensive knowledge of programme making. It did seem BT was aiming at broadband distribution but I suspect their experience with their current Sports offerings show uptake has been modest. The UK is really Satellite orientated for content delivery (as is Germany) whereas the French have made massive steps in delivering content via broadband (very fast connections and free routers with free installation). Freeview PayTV is possible but again isn't extensively used and bandwidth is very limited especially for HD. BT hasn't a satellite delivery system (Sky really is the gatekeeper here) so BT has to make its mind up about how to deliver their content - which is where the purchase of ESPN is interesting as they already have established satellite channels and adding to these will be much simpler than starting from ground zero. However ESPN are closely aligned to Sky and I can't see BT in a similar position.

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      To some extent it is true that current broadband speeds can't cope with streaming much of the HD content, but then again people will argue that they can stream HD films from services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and LoveFilm. What many people perhaps do not realise is that the bandwidth required for a sports channel is considerable more than that required for a movie channel.

      Also additional services, such as subtitles, audio dialogue & 3D TV will take up more bandwidth.

      Thankfully BT is in a position to know what developments are coming with regards to broadband speeds. I was under the impression that FTTC would soon be able to support download connection speeds of 220mbps. FTTP is already available in some areas, but is hugely expensive to install.

      When the London Olympics were built, BT was able to build in a first class network to support broadband delivery for all the different broadcasters. By placing the new headquarters on that site, they are in an excellent position to take advantage of the infrastructure which they put in place there.

      I was reading a blog on the thinkbroadband site where it was stated that the Satellites work at 25mbps for a HD channel. That will be a 1080i channel. With the possible start of a 4K channel happening in a couple of years, I cannot see current broadband connections coping with this.

      Do you know what really grinds my gears? The H.265 codec « broadband blog

      Perhaps someone who has a YouView unit can comment, but I suspect that gamers are none too keen on people in their household streaming video content. It will sap their response times.

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      Quote Originally Posted by Scubbie
      What many people perhaps do not realise is that the bandwidth required for a sports channel is considerable more than that required for a movie channel.
      Sorry to go a little off topic, but i didn't realise this.

      Why would it be so, when the footage that reaches my screen has the same definition & framerate as that of a non sports channel?

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      Compression rates and the fact that movies tend not to involved as much movement as say a footie match.

      If you take a look in the On Demand section and compare the download size for a film with a sporting item which is as long, you will find that the sports content requires more space.

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      Yes, i remember first seeing this when i reluctantly (although not really as sky enticed me with a great offer) re-subscribed to the HD pack for formula 1.

      HD recordings were/are certainly disproportionate in that sense, but i still can't see why.

      I (think) i understand basics of interlace vs. progressive, FPS, definition & aspect ratio - all of which are variables.

      What i don't get though, is why, when the STB output & TV display are fixed, the required bandwith is variable.
      Surely it's the same pixel count, audio bitrate etc?

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      Re: BT to buy ESPN UK and Ireland channels

      With films the different frames are often similar to the previous frames. This information is used to generate each additional information and thus less information is required to be transmitted.

      Films tend to pan slowly around a room.

      Now compare this to a sporting programme, such as rugby. Fast movement, many camera changes. Lots of camera movement.

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