ESPN to quit UK?

ESPN is considering quitting the UK as the sports network racks up losses and after having lost key sports rights contacts, reports the FT.

The Walt Disney company is disenchanted with no progress against Sky and then being outbid for BT for secondary football rights.  Most recently it also lost mobile rights when it was outbid by a rival offer from News Corp.

Disney reported first-quarter results that beat expectations and sent its shares up close to 3 per cent in after market trading. The company, which recently acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion – giving it the right to make sequels to the Star Wars films – revealed it was also planning spin-off movies based on popular Star Wars characters. Profits across the group were lower than the comparable quarter last time, the result of higher programming costs – and increasingly expensive sports rights – at ESPN and declining home entertainment sales at Disney’s movie studio.

Total revenues across the group rose from $10.8 billion to $11.3 billion. Net income slipped from $1.52 billion to $1.44 billion and earnings per share fell from 81 cents to 78 cents.

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