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ESPN To Acquire NASN, Europe’s North American Sports Network Will Expand Espn’s Presence In Region


LONDON – ESPN today announced it has agreed to acquire NASN, the only European channel dedicated to North American sports, from Setanta Sport Holdings Ltd and Benchmark Capital Europe. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and the deal is expected to close early next year subject to regulatory approvals.

“Growing our business in Europe is a key strategic initiative for us,” said Russell Wolff, managing director of ESPN International. “We expect NASN, which has performed well and created a unique market position, to be a strong addition to our portfolio. ESPN has a leadership position in sports media around the world, and we look forward to bringing the same passion, quality, excitement, and insightful journalism to sports fans in Europe.”

Amory B. Schwartz, co-founder and chief executive of NASN said, “In four years, we have developed NASN from an inspiring idea to the home of North American sports in Europe, and the acquisition by ESPN is testimony to the soundness of our vision and execution. We are delighted to be part of ESPN which will help us continue to deliver the best sports programming for our viewers, and reach even more sports fans in Europe.”

NASN is the only network in Europe completely dedicated to North American Sports, airing over 800 live and as-live sports events each year. These include over 200 live games from the National Hockey League including the All-Star Game and every game of the Stanley Cup, 60 live National Football League games in certain markets including the playoffs and Super Bowl, and 250 live Major League Baseball games including the All-Star Game and World Series. Subscribers can also view college basketball action and the celebrated NCAA Tournament, as well as NCAA Football including the Bowl Championship Series. ESPN’s future plans include bringing ESPN branding to the network.

Setanta was a launch investor in NASN in October 2002 along with Vulcan European Media. In June 2005, Vulcan sold out to Setanta which then sold a 50% interest to Benchmark Capital Europe, the top-tier venture capital firm. Setanta and Benchmark focused their efforts over the past 18 months on helping NASN secure the best content and distribution deals across Europe. The channel today reaches over 6 million households in 26 European countries.

“This acquisition will allow us to accelerate our European television business which has grown rapidly since the launch of ESPN Classic in 2002,” said Lynne Frank, managing director of ESPN, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “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.”

Since 2002 with the launch of ESPN Classic, ESPN has operated a variety of ESPN-branded businesses in Europe. ESPN Classic currently serves 20 million subscribers in over 40 countries. ESPN also provides programming to Europe through its syndication arm via more than 90 broadcasters. ESPNsoccernet, the leading English-language soccer news and information site in the world, is also based in ESPN’s London office. ESPN Mobile distributes X Games video, wallpapers, and ringtones to four countries in Europe, and offers the ESPNsoccernet WAP service which covers news, scores and standings from English, Scottish, Spanish, Italian, German and French football to serve international football fans in the region.
About ESPN

ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six U.S. television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU), ESPN and ESPN2 HD simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks, syndication, radio, web sites), ESPN Radio,, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360 (Broadband), Mobile ESPN, ESPN on Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

ESPN International is a division of ESPN, Inc. ESPN International has evolved to include ownership— in whole or in part—of 31 television networks, as well as a variety of ancillary businesses, which together extend the ESPN brand to more than 190 countries and territories. ESPN International network programming is transmitted in 15 languages (Arabic, Cantonese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish). ESPN International business entities include television, radio, print, internet, wireless, consumer products, and event management.
About The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment and consumer products. Disney is a Dow 30 company, had annual revenues of over $34 billion in its most recent fiscal year, and a market capitalization of $68 billion as of Dec. 1, 2006.
About NASN

NASN, founded in 2002, is the only pan-European sports network broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week showing extensive live and ’as live’ coverage of the highest profile sports in North America including:
# - the National Hockey League (NHL)
# - Major League Baseball (MLB)
# - National Football League (NFL)
# - Canadian Football League (CFL)
# - NCAA College Football and Basketball

NASN also broadcasts many of the top sports news and highlight shows from the most prominent North American networks. The network is currently distributed via digital networks and satellite platforms in over 25 countries including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Luxemburg, Iceland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and CIS countries. Recent expansion has extended NASN’s footprint to over 6 million homes in Europe. In June 2005, original investor Setanta Sport Holdings Ltd was joined by Benchmark Capital Europe, the top-tier venture capital firm.

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