ESPN scores rights for the Premiership

<div>DISNEY-owned ESPN yesterday scooped up the rights to show 46 games in next season&rsquo;s Premier League, which were due to have been shown by ailing broadcaster Setanta.<br /><br />The deal marks the first time a broadcaster based outside of the British Isles has won the rights to air the English Premier League in the UK.<br /><br />Sources close to the deal said the US sports network paid around &pound;90m for the exclusive rights to show two packages of 23 games each in the 2009/2010 season, compared to the &pound;131m that had been agreed by Setanta.<br /><br />Setanta had already paid around &pound;40m, meaning that with ESPN&rsquo;s payment, the Premier League has broken even.<br /><br />ESPN has also secured one package of 23 games for each of the following three seasons<br /><br />&ldquo;This move demonstrates our commitment to British sports fans and our ongoing commitment to delivering football to fans around the world,&rdquo; &nbsp;said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International.<br /><br />The Premier League terminated its agreement with Setanta on Friday after it failed to meet the final deadline for part of a &pound;30m payment.<br /><br />&ldquo;ESPN has a formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports,&rdquo; said Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore.<br /><br />&nbsp;ESPN has already reached a deal to air its coverage via BSkyB&rsquo;s pay-TV channels. But it added that this was just a &ldquo;first step&rdquo; in is distribution strategy, indicating that further deals could be struck with Virgin Media and other networks.</div>
<div><br />Last night, talks were continuing at Setanta in an &nbsp;attempt to salvage the business after a rescue deal fell apart this weekend, causing it lose the rights to show Scottish Premier League matches as well.</div>