Disney quickly devour Setanta scraps as ESPN agree Premier League TV deal
Disney-owned sports TV network ESPN, who have been circling the Premier League throughout the Setanta crisis, dived in last night to buy up all the available live match action for the next four years. The American channel picked up the Premier League packages for Saturday teatime and Monday nights for next season that were resold by the PL after doomed Setanta failed to meet last Friday's deadline rights. ESPN also bought the one set of 23 Saturday games that Setanta had forfeited for the three years starting from 2010-11. The double quick deals, as predicted in Sports Agenda, have allowedthe Premier League to recoup all the money owed to them by Setanta -£131m for next season's two packages of 46 games and £159m for the oneset in the next three-year deal. ESPN have probably paid slightly less than Setanta did - but the shortfall has been made up by the £40m advance the PL have already collected from the Irish sports subscription channel, who are spiralling into administration. The American channel, who already have a subscription infrastructure via Disney on the Sky platform, will use Sky to broadcast their Premier League matches next season. But they also intend to offer their PL content across the full range of subscription and pay TV platforms. The live ESPN matches are likely to be cheaper than when Setanta started in order to build up a subscription base. The likely rate is £10 a month for Premier League games plus some more rights, which will give hope to the Scottish Premier League andthe FA with FA Cup rights to re-sell. PL chief executive Richard Scudamore said: 'I am sure we will enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with them.' SETANTA TIMELINE JUNE 1 - Setanta fail to pay the £3million final instalment of the Scottish Premier League 2008-09 TV deal. JUNE 5 - Negotiations continue with the payment still not forthcoming. JUNE 7 - Reports emerge suggesting Setanta could be forced into administration imminently. JUNE 9 - BSkyB chiefs confirm they have refused a £50million lifeline to their stricken rival. Setanta had asked Sky for an interest-free loan and in return offered access to the live rights to 46 Premier League games next season as an add-on option to Sky Sports. Setanta's subscription services for new customers also become unavailable. Internet applicants are flashed a message saying: 'Oops! Something has gone wrong....' JUNE 10 - BT Vision suspends any further sales of Setanta Sports.Setanta later confirm they have suspended any new subscriptions fromtheir sports services but insist efforts to avoid administration arestill continuing. JUNE 11 - Setanta's hopes of being rescued by a buy-out by Disney-owned broadcaster ESPN are dashed when the American firm rules out any possible purchase. JUNE 12 - US-based tycoon Len Blavatnik confirms he is working on a £20million 11th hour rescue deal. JUNE 15 - Setanta begin taking subscriptions from new customers again as rescue hopes grew for the struggling business. JUNE 19 - The Premier League announce they have terminated their contract with Setanta and will sell off the broadcaster's 46 live matches for the 2009/10 season. A potential deal with Blavatnik's Access Industries, thought to beworth £20million in return for a 51% stake in the broadcaster,collapses after "a number of issues" were not resolved in time, the investor said. JUNE 22 - The Scottish Premier League confirm they are "actively engaging in the process of selling their domestic broadcasting rights" after Setanta failed to make their outstanding payment of £3million.
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