ESPN, M-League, IMG pact on matches

HONG KONG — ESPN Star Sports, M-League and agency IMG have paid top dollar to acquire rights to England’s FA Cup and national team soccer matches between 2008 and 2012.

Combined value of the deals is over $300 million, making Asia the most valuable regional market for English soccer. Total is also a 275% increase on the $80 million current four year deal, held largely by ESPN.

Deals saw IMG pick up rights in Japan and the Indian sub-continent, newcomer M-Net take Thailand and ESPN take the remainder, including China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

ESPN was outbid last year for rights to English Premiere League soccer in territories including Hong Kong, Singapore and China (Variety, Nov. 24, 2006.)

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