—Initiative Marks First Branded Network for ESPN in Europe —
—TWI to Contribute Production Services and Facilities —
December 10, 2001, New York, London, and Paris — ESPN, Inc. and Sports Capital Partners, a private investment firm focused on sports, media, leisure and lifestyle related businesses, have announced the creation of ESPN Classic Sport, a new network of European sports channels dedicated to showcasing the greatest moments in sports history. TWI, the largest independent producer, packager, and distributor of sports programming in the world, will also play a principal role in ESPN Classic Sport by providing a variety of support services to the venture, including production and facilities. ESPN Classic Sport marks ESPN's first branded network initiative in Europe. The company is 70% owned by ESPN and 30% owned by Sports Capital Partners.
Televising 24 hours a day, ESPN Classic Sport will bring viewers the greatest moments in sports from Europe and around the world. The programming will be a mix of full-length matches, event highlights, and produced retrospective programs. The network will serve the interests of all sports fans by programming a wide variety of sports from football and tennis, to gymnastics and skiing. ESPN Classic Sport will also be tailored according to local tastes and will be presented in the local language of each country where it is available.
In the United States, ESPN Classic is the leader in presenting classic moments in sport, and now reaches over 43 million subscribers. ESPN also has an equity interest in ESPN Classic Canada, which launched this past September.
ESPN Classic Sport will launch first in France early next year with a minimum reach of 2.5 million homes, including the subscribers of CanalSatellite and TPS, France's direct-to-home satellite TV operators. Subsequent launches will take place in other major European markets over the next several years.
The headquarters and main production office for ESPN Classic Sport will be based in London, with sales, marketing and local production in Paris.
In France, ESPN Classic Sport would showcase marquee sporting events and moments including: highlights of domestic, European Club, and national team football matches; the best in grass, clay, and hard court tennis action from Wimbledon, Roland Garros, and the Australian Open; historic races from the Tour de France; classic coverage of the best boxing of all time from the ESPN Big Fights Library; great moments in golf from a variety of events including The Open Championship; plus rugby, skating, skiing, and much more.
"Launching ESPN's first branded network in Europe is exciting," said George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. "It reflects ESPN's continued growth and the great interest in the quality services we provide to fans. With ESPN's experience in classic-themed sports programming, the support of Sports Capital Partners, and the multifaceted television experience of TWI, we will offer European viewers a unique opportunity to relive the most memorable moments in sports history."
David S. Moross, chairman and CEO of Sports Capital Partners, added, "We are pleased to partner with a premier brand in ESPN, to work with TWI, and to invest in developing and launching ESPN Classic Sport. The creation of ESPN Classic Sport is a tremendous opportunity for our fund and we look forward to working with our new partners to realize what we all regard as the network's huge potential."
Bill Sinrich, president of TWI, commented, "ESPN Classic Sport is an exciting development bringing together three strong companies for an alliance that is unmatched in sports television experience, channel management expertise, production skills, and sports archives. Europe's sporting heritage is rich and diverse, and we believe there is a large audience wishing to revisit or witness afresh the talents and achievements of classic sport."
Based in Bristol, Connecticut, USA, ESPN, Inc. is 80 percent owned by The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN. ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader in Sports, is a multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company, comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Extra, and ESPN Today), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Regional Television, SportsTicker and ESPN Enterprises, which oversees brand extensions such as the ESPN Zones (sports-themed dining and interactive establishments) and consumer products. ESPN International now has interests in 26 networks distributed to over 112 million households in more than 140 countries and territories outside of the U.S.
About Sports Capital Partners
Sports Capital Partners (www.sportscapital.com) is a private investment firm established in 1998 by David S. Moross to provide investors with significant long-term capital appreciation by investing globally in sports-, media-, leisure- and lifestyle-related businesses.
TWI, the program producing arm of Mark McCormack's IMG, is the largest independent television production company in the UK and the largest independent producer, packager and distributor of sports programs in the world. TWI produces 6000 hours of original programming each year for distribution to more than 200 territories and has production centers in London, New York, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Seoul, Stockholm and Sydney.
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