BT to buy ESPN UK?

ESPN joins a long line of previous challengers to BSkyB’s strong hold on prime sports coverage in the UK and Ireland. BT is reportedly about to buy the channel as the Disney-owned service throws in the towel. And thus ESPN UK joins Setanta, BSB, ONdigital/ITVdigital, Homechoice TV, TopUp TV and even Virgin Media in the long line of broadcasters which have tried to mount any sort of alternate supplier to BSkyB.

The FT reports that ESPN is selling off its rights to assets to certain games from Germany’s Bundesliga, the Europa League and English Premier League. The telco’s BT Vision unit is said to be looking to launch as many as three sports channels to reflect the £1 billion of sports investments already in its portfolio.

ESPN’s rights were acquired for only about £20 million, but could be worth more in today’s heated market. Last summer BT paid £738 million for a three-year package of 32 English football games per season.

BT Vision added 21,000 subscribers in the quarter-year to December 31st.

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