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.
Sources close to the deal said the US sports network paid around £90m for the exclusive rights to show two packages of 23 games each in the 2009/2010 season, compared to the £131m that had been agreed by Setanta.
Setanta had already paid around £40m, meaning that with ESPN’s payment, the Premier League has broken even.
ESPN has also secured one package of 23 games for each of the following three seasons
“This move demonstrates our commitment to British sports fans and our ongoing commitment to delivering football to fans around the world,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director of ESPN International.
The Premier League terminated its agreement with Setanta on Friday after it failed to meet the final deadline for part of a £30m payment.
“ESPN has a formidable worldwide reputation and experience in sports,” said Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore.
ESPN has already reached a deal to air its coverage via BSkyB’s pay-TV channels. But it added that this was just a “first step” in is distribution strategy, indicating that further deals could be struck with Virgin Media and other networks.