ESS claims to double distribution reach in China with deals around EPL

MUMBAI: Asian sports broadcaster ESPN Star Sports (ESS) claims to have signed its biggest ever distribution agreement in China, resulting in the English Premier League being broadcast live to over 100 million football fans across the country from this weekend. This is the first time the EPL will be broadcast live nationwide in China, says an official release.

According to the release, ESS has concluded distribution deals with over 20 regional TV stations as well as national channels CCTV 5 and Hunan Satellite, allowing Chinese viewers to see up to 165 live matches from August through May 2003. With this distribution, ESS claims to have more than doubled its previous distribution in China.

China's national sports channel CCTV-5 picked up the Star Sports Saturday night match, Hunan Satellite TV brought live coverage of ESPNs second Sunday match and Star Sports Monday night match beamed to a national audience of over 100 million cable households, claims the release.

The ESPN service is one of only three foreign channels approved to supply programming to Chinese broadcast partners direct 24 hours a day, STAR Sports is available through all hotels, says the release. The season opener on ESPN saw newly promoted Manchester City visiting Leeds United (shown live at 9:55 pm on 17 August ). On Star Sports, popular club Manchester United played host to West Bromwich Albion on the same day.

Besides match coverage, ESPN STAR Sports will also air daily EPL coverage in prime time as well as daily news on SportsCenter, Asias top daily sports news service.

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