What is ESPN UK?
ESPN UK launched in 2009 following the withdrawal of Setanta Sports from the UK, and snapped up the broadcast rights to a portion of Barclays Premier League Football games.
Currently, to get the full Premier League experience on your TV set, you’ll need to subscribe to both Sky Sports and ESPN.
Sky Sports has the broadcast rights to five-sixths of the Premier League games and ESPN has the rights to the remaining sixth.
As well as this, ESPN has secured the rights to 25 live FA Cup matches and 30 live Scottish Premier League games, UEFA Europa League, German Bundesliga and German Supercup.
ESPN filled the vacuum that was created by Setanta Sports ceasing transmission in the UK, broadcasting the rest of the Premier League games not shown by Sky along with a range of other popular sports.
There’s also EPSN America, which carries NCAA College Basketball, NCAA College Football and NASCAR motor racing, amongst other post-colonial activities.
News stories for ESPN UKESPN has now sold its UK live sports rights (including European and American sports) to BT for the BT Sport channels, which will launch in Summer 2013. At least one BT sports channel will continue to carry the ESPN name, however.
How can I get ESPN UK?
ESPN is currently available on Sky, Virgin Media, Freeview, BT Vision, TalkTalk TV and Top Up TV.
Sky subscribers can get ESPN added to their Sky Sports subscription for an extra £10/month. Alternatively, ESPN can be taken separately for £13/month.
Sky Sports starts at £21/month and must be taken in conjunction with either the Sky Entertainment pack (£21.50/month) or the Sky Entertainment Extra pack (£26.50/month).
This puts the total cost of ESPN on Sky at either £52.50/month if taken with Sky Sports (plus the Entertainment pack), £57.50/month (plus the Entertainment Extra pack) and £34.50/month for just the requisite Entertainment pack plus ESPN.
Virgin Media customers with the TV M+ or L packages can sign up for ESPN for an extra £8/month on top of their current subscription.
Alternatively, if you’re taking out Sky Sports (£25.75/month) with your Virgin Media TV package, then the costs of ESPN drops to £6/month, meaning you’d pay an extra £31.75/month in total.
If you’ve got the all inclusive TV XL package then you get ESPN included as part of the deal.
Freeview with Top Up TV
On Freeview with Top Up TV, ESPN costs £10.99/month on its own or £32.99 as a bundle deal with Sky Sports 1.
If you’re a new customer, you’ll need to pay a £20 one-off connection fee and get an adapter that’ll fit into the CI (Common Interface) slot on your Freeview box or TV set.
These cost £49.99 but can be snapped up for free if you take out a two-channel package deal from Top Up TV.
Note that the The ESPN channel on Freeview is only available from 2pm-4am Monday to Friday, 11am-6am on Saturdays and 11am-4am on Sundays.
ESPN is included in the £12.50/month BT Vision Unlimited packaged, which also includes a range of services over your BT Broadband connection.
This is the only way to get ESPN on BT Vision – it’s not available on the lower tier BT Vision Essential package (£5/month) and can’t be taken as a standalone service.
The ESPN channel on BT Vision is only available from 2pm-4am from Monday to Friday, 11am-6am on Saturdays, and 11am-4am on Sundays.
On TalkTalk TV, ESPN costs £10/month on it’s own and is available to TalkTalk broadband subscribers paying TalkTalk for line rental.
Unlike what you get with the Freeview Top Up TV and BT Vision offerings, TalkTalk TV gives you the same full ESPN UK channel as you’d get with Sky and Virgin Media.
- BT snaps up ESPN live sports catalogue but will keep channel alive
- Possible red card for ESPN on British screens
ESPN has signalled that it could depart from British screens this year as it makes way for the arrival of BT Sport.
The move has been all but confirmed as a senior executive tips the hat to industry paper Broadcast [paywall] saying that the Disney-owned broadcaster is “exploring” the possibility of shutting up shop, but adding that he “doesn’t really want to talk [much else about it].”
ESPN has missed out on securing coverage for the 2013-14 season’s games which will be shared by Sky Sports and the soon-to-be-launched BT Sport. This has led to the company experiencing losses not recouped since the launch of the channel in the UK in 2009.
ESPN holds a smaller clutch of Premier League games than what BT Sport has managed to secure with its big £738 million spend. BT has nabbed roughly a third of the games for the next season whereas ESPN had one sixth. This should make BT Sport more of a compelling proposition for football fans so it should succeed where those before it have not.
Currently, ESPN still holds the rights to other live sports broadcasts such as NFL American Football, NBA basketball and MMA. Rights to these are said to be worth £15 million in total. Sky and BT are currently thought to be working out a deal on how to acquire these rights.
February 11, 2013