ESS bags rights to UEFA Champions League till 2006

SINGAPORE: ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) has good news for Asian football fans. The broadcaster has renewed its exclusive pay-TV multi-year cable and satellite rights in Asia for the UEFA Champions League (UCL).

The announcement comes at the close of the 2002/2003 UCL season and after news that the network won exclusive pay-tv broadcast rights for yet another strong Asian sports property, the World Professional Pool Championships (WPPC). An official release informs that the acquisitions reinforce the company's long-term position as Asia's most complete sports provider, both in terms of broadcast hours and the quality of its coverage. The multi-year deal, which also includes Pay-Per-View and Video-On-Demand rights and terrestrial rights for China represents the continuation of the successful partnership between ESS and UCL.

Each week, ESS will air four live matches including the Finals across most of Asia (Taiwan and Philippines will see two live matches a week). While this matches the number of games a week shown during the 2002/2003 season, ESS will create a range of support programming to provide football fans with news, analysis and highlights shows, making it the most comprehensive coverage of the Champions League on Asian television. In total, the nine ESPN and STAR Sports channels will deliver a total of 125 matches and more than 295 hours of programming over the season.

ESS MD Rik Dovey made the following remarks about the new deal, "ESS' proven ability to value-add to sport properties was a deciding factor in the award of multi-year rights for the UEFA Champions League. For us, having a long-term commitment means that we can continue to invest more resources and further develop the League's audiences across Asia.

"Rights holders like UEFA know we have the best distribution of any sports networks in Asia and they appreciate the value we bring to their product not only through the biggest audience, but also the way we present their product, through scheduling, production and expert commentary. They want to see their League continue to grow in Asia. That's why they have committed to ESS on a long-term basis.'

The 2003/2004 UEFA Champions League season which begins on 17 September , 2003 on ESPN and Star Sports, will reach over 128 million households on ESPN and over 57 million households on Star Sports.

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