The Football Association, (FA) has today agreed to a four year deal with sports media company ESPN for rights to The FA Cup, the forthcoming Women’s Super League and England Under 21.The deal with ESPN will begin in the summer of 2010, running through until the end of the 2013-14 season, and will sit alongside the existing UK contract for The FA Cup and England senior games held by ITV until 2012.
ESPN will show live, exclusive coverage of up to 25 FA Cup matches per season, including one exclusive Semi-Final match and a simulcast of the FA Cup Final (on both ESPN and ITV).
This season’s FA Cup (2009-10) will continue to be shown by The FA’s current broadcast partner ITV, who will show three live games from the Third to Fifth Round – one additional game – and all games from the Quarter-Final stage onwards.
All matches broadcast by ESPN and ITV will be available in high definition.
From 2010-11, ESPN will televise two matches in the First and Second Rounds (plus up to two replays per round), three matches from the Third to Fifth Rounds (plus up to one replay), two FA Cup Quarter-Finals (plus up to one replay) and one Semi-Final for each of the next four seasons. ITV will continue to broadcast one match in the First and Second Round, two matches from the Third to Fifth Rounds, two Quarter-Finals and one Semi-Final. Meanwhile, FATV will continue to broadcast one or two games per round up to the Fifth Round via TheFA.com and will continue to host games online in the future as the project expands.
Along with rights to The FA Cup, ESPN will also show all of the England Under 21 side’s home matches. Further, following the launch of the Women’s Super League in 2011, ESPN will have exclusive media rights for the new division.
FA CEO Ian Watmore said: “We are extremely pleased to have added ESPN to our list of broadcast partners. As a global broadcaster who have already demonstrated a strong presence in the UK, ESPN will give our football great visibility and we look forward to an excellent partnership with them. Whilst it’s a very different market to two years ago, we have nevertheless taken our time and as a result have received some strong, credible bids.”
Jeroen Oerlemans, Vice President & Channel Manager TV, ESPN Europe, Middle East & Africa, said: “The FA Cup is one of the great UK sports properties and will add to an already strong line-up of top-quality football on ESPN. We look forward to bringing these matches to our fans in brilliant HD. We are delighted to have been awarded these exclusive domestic rights, which are another significant step in growing our presence in the UK.”
Niall Sloane, ITV Controller of Sport, said: “We’re delighted to have extended our partnership with The FA to secure extra games from this season’s competition for our viewers – in what promises to be a fantastic year of free-to-air football on ITV. We also look forward to working closely with new broadcast partners, ESPN.”
Alongside their coverage of The FA Cup, ITV will continue to broadcast all England home qualifying matches through until the end of the 2011-12 season as well as home and away friendly internationals (home friendlies were previously held by Setanta). Sky Sports has the rights to broadcast The FA Community Shield and FA Women’s Cup Final until 2012.