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Updated: NewsCorp Acquires Disney’s 50% Stake In ESPN-Star Sports

Update: News Corporation paid $335 million to acquire the 50% stake in ESS, according to a report by Indiantelevision.

November 9: Rupert Murdoch owned News Corporation has completed the acquisition of ESPN Star Sports (ESS) by acquiring 50 percent stake of the Walt Disney in the joint venture. In September, News Corps had received a nod from  Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the buyout.

With this acquisition, ESS will become a wholly owned subsidy of News Corp. MediaNama readers might recall that in June News Corp had announced that it will buy ESPN’s 50% equity stake in ESPN STAR Sports (ESS). The 50-50 joint venture brought sports programming to 24 countries in Asia on 28 networks.

The deal marks ESPN’s exit from the Asian market, however, ESPN will continue to operate its online portfolio for Asian market: ESPNCricinfo, ESPNFC and ESPN Mobile. Apart from that, as a part of the deal, Peter Hutton, then senior vice-president of sports for FOX International Channels (FIC), would take over as managing director of ESS. The position was previously held by Manu Sawhney. Hutton will report to the ESS Board.

According to a report by afaqs, following the deal, News Corp owned Star India will now have six sports channels to its portfolio including ESPN, Star Sports, Star Cricket, ESPN HD, Star Cricket HD and ESPN News. The report states that Star India and News Corp will currently use ESS’s current brand, however, the brand will be phased out eventually. Apart from that, ESPN and Star India have signed a non-compete agreement.

It’s also worth noting that Disney has expanded its presence in India by acquiring UTV, and UTV has a fairly comprehensive broadcast business in place.

Other related developments: Recently, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), and The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had announced a seven year contract for exclusive multi-platform rights to broadcast its domestic and home international matches. The deal will run from 2013 to 2019 and incorporates exclusive rights for television, online, mobile and radio, covering major cricket markets of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh among others across Asia. It will also include broadcasting in territories in North Africa.


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