ESPN lands pay-TV deal with big four

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The Independent Online

ESPN has sealed agreements to broadcast its new sports channel over the four largest pay-TV providers in the UK, after BT and Top Up TV signed up.

The broadcaster, which announced the deals to show its content including Premier League matches yesterday, is also in talks with Tiscali for a similarly styled deal, according to insiders.

BT said in a statement that it would provide ESPN's channels for free to customers on its Gold, Silver and Bronze packages. Marc Watson said: "We want BT Vision to offer the best value and all-round entertainment – which naturally includes the very best of sport."

Top Up TV, which provides paid-for content on Freeview, also announced its agreement yesterday.

The company will offer the first month to subscribers for free and subsequently for £9.99 a month. Recent research from broadcasting regulator Ofcom found that over 17 million homes in the UK are capable of receiving Freeview.

ESPN was quick to secure an agreement to show its content on Sky after picking up the rights to the Premier League, and a deal with Virgin Media followed shortly after.

Lynne Frank, managing director of ESPN in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the channel was set to be a "must-have for fans" after Monday's launch.

ESPN won the rights to 46 English Premier League matches in the 2009/10 season when Setanta put its UK operations into administration in June. It also has 23 matches from 2010 to 2013.