ESPN continues to add to its lineup of live top-flight football with the acquisition of French Ligue 1 rights and renewals of its agreements to cover Italian Serie A, Eredivisie and the Russian Premier League. The agreements all include multimedia rights – across TV and digital media – in the UK and Ireland.
The new deals come as ESPN also announced a new three year extension to its coverage of the Bundesliga, and add to ESPN’s extensive coverage of the best in UK, European and international football. Fans will also see the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, Clydesdale Bank Premier League, UEFA Europa League, MLS, international football and more on ESPN.
Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice-President, TV Channels, ESPN EMEA, said: “The addition of France’s Ligue 1 and the renewal of Serie A, Dutch Eredivisie and Russian Premier League means ESPN is the home to the very best domestic league football from across Europe. Our portfolio of live football on ESPN is combined with our growing range of sport, which includes rugby, cricket, darts, motorsport, UFC, boxing and more.”
The French top league will be appearing for the first time on ESPN, which last season brought viewers two of the biggest games in French football: the French League Cup Final and the French Cup Final. Montpellier took the Ligue 1 title last season, holding off the challenge of powerhouse Paris Saint Germain. The capital club, managed by ex-Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, has already begun strengthening their squad this summer with the signing of one of Europe’s top defenders, Thiago Silva from AC Milan, and his teammate, star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
ESPN has televised Serie A since the 2009, including the most recent season, which saw Juventus win the Scudetto without losing a single game. Antonio Conte’s side have been strongly linked with a move for Arsenal star Robin van Persie this summer, while both Milan giants – AC and Inter – are undergoing major squad renovations as they look to challenge again for the title. In addition, clubs including Udinese and Napoli have produced some of the most thrilling football in Europe with some of the most exciting young players. ESPN’s coverage of Serie A throughout the season will include studio presentation led each Sunday by a combination of Italian football experts James Richardson and Gabriele Marcotti, plus guests. Serie A coverage each Sunday will form part of a live sports and studio programming schedule, with live coverage of multiple sporting events, all with pre- and post-match studio shows that will deliver results, highlights, analysis, discussion and more.
ESPN’s renewal of the rights to the Russian Premier League will ensure viewers can catch games from the division as it switches from a summer to an autumn/spring calendar. The league is home to big name managers such as Guus Hiddink at Anzi Makhachkala – home to former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o. Big-spending Anzi will be joined by the Moscow clubs looking to win the title from current holders Zenit St Petersburg.
The deals follow on from ESPN’s announcement of more than 25 pre-season friendlies featuring top Barclays Premier League and major European sides and its new multi-year rights deal with the Bundesliga. ESPN has secured a host of pre-season friendlies taking place over the summer, including Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea v MLS All-Stars, and Arsenal v Manchester City at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. More than 25 warm-up games will be broadcast on the channel as top teams across Europe prepare for the upcoming season.
In addition to live and exclusive TV coverage of Ligue 1 and other top European leagues, fans can find discussion and analysis of the latest in football on ESPN Press Pass. ESPN’s daily football show looks at the global game with a global perspective and brings fans all the latest news, information and opinion about top leagues around the world.
Online and on mobile, ESPN’s recently announced worldwide multimedia football initiative – ESPNFC – will launch in August, bringing coverage of all the latest news, developments and analysis and commentary of the top leagues from around the globe.
And for the upcoming Barclays Premier League season, football fans can again catch action from every Barclays Premier League match – within just minutes of it taking place – for free on the ESPN Goals app on their mobile devices.