Virgin Media and ESPN Announce Channel Deal Ahead of Premier League Football Season

Sports fans can now get ESPN channels as part of Virgin Media’s XL pack for no extra cost

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) and ESPN today announced that the new ESPN channel will be available in both standard and High Definition (HD) to Virgin Media’s 3.5 million digital TV customers from 3rd August. The ESPN channel will offer live Barclays Premier League and Clydesdale Bank Premier League football as well a wide range of international football and top quality sports.

Customers who subscribe to Virgin Media’s XL TV pack will be able to watch ESPN and ESPN HD at no additional cost. As part of the deal, these subscribers will also receive ESPN Classic, featuring the greatest moments of UK and European sport.

Dedicated sports fans who are on Virgin Media’s M or L pack will be able to subscribe to ESPN and ESPN HD for a great value price of £8 a month if they already subscribe to any combination of the Sky Sports channels, or £10 a month if not.

As a special introduction to the new ESPN and ESPN HD channels, Virgin Media will make these ESPN channels available to all of its digital TV customers, for no additional cost, during August.

Mark Schweitzer, chief commercial officer of Virgin Media, said: “This agreement solidifies Virgin Media’s place as the home of TV entertainment and is unquestionably the best value TV deal for sports fanatics. We’ve got all the sports content you’d expect and adding the new ESPN channels to our line-up will mean our customers can watch all the football action they want.”

Mr Schweitzer added: “We’re always looking for ways to go the extra mile for our customers and we think this market beating offer does this in spades as well as providing a sweetener for the start of the football season. We are extremely proud to have partnered with ESPN, which is the world’s leading multimedia sports entertainment company.”

Lynne Frank, managing director for ESPN in Europe, Middle East and Africa said: “We are delighted to add Virgin Media as a new distribution partner and to offer millions more sports fans ESPN’s compelling mix of Barclays Premier League and Clydesdale Bank Premier League football, as well as the best of international football and top quality sports. The plan to make the channels available to Virgin Media’s XL customers will help ESPN better serve sports fans in the UK. It’s an exciting season ahead and we look forward to bringing our new channels, ESPN and ESPN HD as well as ESPN Classic, to as many sports fans as possible.”

ESPN’s new channel ‘ESPN’ will launch on 3rd August in both standard definition and HD. It will showcase 46 live Premier League football games during the 2009/10 season and 23 matches for each of the following three seasons. ESPN will also show 30 live and exclusive Clydesdale Bank Premier League games each season across the UK and Ireland, starting with the 2009/10 campaign this August. The channel will also broadcast other top international sporting events, which will be announced shortly.

The first live Barclays Premier League game on ESPN will be Everton versus Arsenal with a 5:30pm kick off on Saturday 15th August.

About Virgin Media

With almost 10 million customers, Virgin Media is the UK's first quad-play provider of broadband, TV, phone and mobile.

The company is one of the largest residential broadband providers in the UK, using a unique fibre optic cable network to deliver next generation ultrafast internet access of up to 50Mb to just over half of all homes. Combined with a high speed ADSL service and mobile broadband products, Virgin Media is able to offer broadband internet access to virtually the entire country.

Virgin Media has the UK’s most advanced TV on demand service and is the only TV platform to carry BBC iPlayer. It is the second largest provider of pay TV, was the first to launch a high definition TV service and offers a high-specification, HD-ready V+ personal video recorder.

The company operates the most popular virtual mobile network in the UK which, when launched, was the world’s first such mobile phone service. It is also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the country.

Virgin Media also owns Virgin Media Television (VMtv) which runs eight entertainment channels, including Virgin1, LIVING, Bravo and Challenge. VMtv is a 50 per cent joint partner with BBC Worldwide in UKTV, which consists of ten channels including Dave, G.O.L.D., Watch and Alibi.

With operations based entirely in the UK, Virgin Media Inc. is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (VMED).

For more information, go to www.virginmedia.com

About ESPN

Based in Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multimedia sports entertainment company. 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 has grown to include ownership — in whole or in part — of over 45 television networks outside of the United States, as well as a variety of brand extension businesses, which allow ESPN to reach fans in 200 countries and territories. In the UK, ESPN now includes a portfolio of television and digital brands including ESPN Classic, ESPN America, ESPNcricinfo.com, ESPNscrum.com, ESPNsoccernet.com, ESPN360.com and Racing-live.com.

On 22 June 2009, ESPN was awarded the exclusive rights to 46 Live Barclays Premier League matches in the 2009-10 Season and 23 matches a season from 2010-2013. ESPN plan to launch a new channel in the UK on 3rd August called ‘ESPN. On 16 July ESPN was awarded exclusive live rights to Clydesdale Bank Premier League games for the next five seasons, showing 30 live games each season across the UK and Ireland, starting with the 2009-10 campaign this August.

ESPN Classic Sport now has five networks (UK, French, Italian, pan-European and Middle Eastern feeds) available in over 40 countries, and ESPN America has rights to show NFL, NHL, MLB and NCAA Football and Basketball across Europe, available in 43 countries. Online, Soccernet is the destination of choice for football fans worldwide. ESPN acquired cricinfo.com - the world’s leading cricket website - and scrum.com – a leading rugby news, features and information portal – in summer 2007. ESPN360.com - the company’s signature broadband service - launched in Europe in January 2008. In August 2008, ESPN acquired the world’s leading independent motor racing website, Racing-Live.com.

Contacts

Virgin Media
Business Media:
Gareth Mead, +44 (0)20 7299 5703
gareth.mead@virginmedia.co.uk
or
Consumer Media:
Asam Ahmad, +44 (0)20 7299 5707
asam.ahmad@virginmedia.co.uk
or
ESPN
Damion Potter, +44 (0)20 8222 2104
damion.potter@disney.com
or
tpf – the publicity factory
Nick Goodmaker, Damon Middleton, Lee Robson or Katie Bohane
+44 (0)20 7580 6200
espn@tpf-london.com

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