Disney Launches ESPN in Europe

11 December 2001

A new network of European sports channels is to be launched by Walt Disney-controlled sports entertainment broadcaster ESPN and private investment company Sports Capital Partners headed by sports marketing monocrat Mark McCormack. Also dipped in the expectedly lucrative pie are the fingers of IMG/Chase Sports Capital Funds and affiliates of Soros Private Equity Partners LLC.

First to air – early next year in France – is 24-hour ESPN Classic Sport, 70% owned by ESPN and 30% owned by SCP. Programming will be a mix of full-length matches, event highlights, and specially produced retrospective content. Reaching a minimum 2.5 million homes, it will use platforms provided by the nation’s two satellite TV operators, CanalSatellite and TPS.

Roll-out to other European national markets will follow, each customized to local preferences and broadcast in the appropriate language. ESPN’s headquarters and main production office will be in London with sales, marketing and local production in Paris.

News source: AdAge Global