News Corp buys Disney stake in Asian sports joint venture ESS

City A.M. Reporter
RUPERT Murdoch’s News Corp has taken full control of its Asian joint venture ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), buying out Walt Disney’s 50 per cent share to end a 16-year partnership in the region.

ESS has rights to this year’s Olympics in London and also screens Formula One motor races, another of the top attractions in global sport. News Corp has a long history of using sports rights to drive growth of its TV operations.

“News Corporation’s acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own ... furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe, and particularly enhancing our position in sports programming in emerging markets,” said James Murdoch, News Corp’s deputy chief operating officer.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Peter Hutton, senior vice president of sports for News Corp’s FOX International Channels, will take over as managing director of ESS. ESS operates 28 broadcast networks in 24 Asian countries, including a number focused on cricket.