ESPN has secured an exclusive package to show highlights of Premier League highlights on mobile phones from Sky, prompting its rival to shut down its 24/7 Football service.
The Disney-owned sports broadcaster, which picked up the rights to show Premier League games on a subscription channel when Setanta Sports collapsed last year, has increased its drive into the UK. The group is understood to have secured the contract for less than £10m in a blind auction. It is unclear whether Sky bid.
Yesterday, ESPN announced it had won the rights to show short form mobile highlights to all 380 matches to be played over the next three seasons. It will show in-match, post match and customised highlights in the UK.
Sky's rights to show highlights on mobile phones runs out at the end of this season. It first secured the rights two years ago, picking them up from Vodafone and 3. The broadcaster currently shows the highlights on a subscription basis on 24-7 Football for £5 a month or 50p per clip. The service also shows clips from Champions League matches, as well as Sky Sports News and Soccer AM. It is understood that at the end of the season, the service will be discontinued. Sky declined to comment beyond pointing out it would still show live games over mobile phones as well as "near live" highlights on TV.
ESPN have not yet settled on a model for the service, but is expected to announce further plans in the next few weeks. Lynne Frank, senior vice president and managing director for ESPN in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "Adding these rights will allow us to advance our commitment to delivering great sport across the many screens UK fans use each day."
She said the company was building a long-term foundation in the UK since entering the market less than 250 days ago and "this is another big step in that process". This good news for the group, even though it is set to lose one of its packages to broadcast Premier League football on its subscription channel. This will leave the group with 23 games next season, with the rest shown on Sky. Premier League head Richard Scudamore said: "Mobile is an increasingly important technology, as hand held devices become ever more sophisticated."