For the first time since 1998, Barclay's Premiere League soccer matches will be televised on an ESPN network. The cable sports network has inked a deal with Fox Sports International to televise a package of matches from the 2009-2010 season on ESPN2. Setanta Sports and Fox Soccer Channel also have rights to Premier League games.
ESPN2 will air 48 matches, including live games at noon on Mondays, and on tape Saturday mornings.
"The Barclays Premier League is one of the crown jewels of professional sports throughout the world," said Scott Guglielmino, VP of programming, ESPN. "We're pleased to work with Fox Sports International to bring some of the league's marquee matchups to ESPN2 in our continued efforts to serve soccer fans in the United States."
The pickup comes as ESPN looks to beef up its soccer coverage in advance of the World Cup, which will be held in June 2010 in South Africa. The network is going all out to promote the event in hopes that it can perform far better than in previous years; the 2006 final drew 16.9 million people. The network unveiled a yearlong-plus marketing plan for the World Cup at its upfront in May.