Disney buys Setanta's NASN sports channel for £60m
LONDON - Walt Disney has stepped up its sports broadcasting operations in Europe with the acquisition of London-based cable channel North American Sports Network.
Disney has agreed to buy NASN from Irish sports broadcaster Setanta and private equity company Benchmark Capital Europe for an estimated $120m (£60.7m).
The deal is expected to be signed early next year and will add 6m subscribers to Disney's current European footprint, as well as securing exclusive rights to air National Hockey League, National Football League and Major League Baseball games in Europe.
Disney plans to rename the channel to bring it into line with its own sports channel ESPN Classic, which shows reruns of famous sports events to a 20m-strong subscriber base in Europe.
Lynne Frank, managing director of ESPN Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "This acquisition will allow us to accelerate our European television business, which has grown rapidly since the launch of ESPN Classic in 2002. NASN is a great fit for our company and we will continue to build on its success and appeal across some of the most vibrant multichannel markets in the world."
Disney has been aggressively expanding ESPN Classic across Europe and has launched the channel in a slew of new territories including Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Bulgaria in the past year.
NASN was set up in 2002 to offer US sports coverage to Americans living in Europe. The channel is currently available via digital networks in Belgium, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ireland.
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