Sports network pays $900 million for rights

Disney and News Corp.’s pan-Asian sportscaster ESPN Star Sports will pay $900 million for 10-year commercial rights to Champions League Twenty20, a new international series featuring the fan-friendly form of cricket.

That compares with the $1.03 billion paid this year by Sony and World Sports Group for the Indian Premier League, but ESS said its winning bid is the highest price ever paid for a cricket tourney on a per-game basis.

ESS beat rival bids of $751 million from DIC and another, which was disqualified, from Abu Dhabi Sports Club.

Teams play Twenty20, a high-speed, made-for-TV style of cricket, and compete for a $6 million prize.

To run Dec. 3-10, the Champions League series involves the winners and runners-up from the Twenty20 series run in England, Australia, India, South Africa and Pakistan. Next year the tournament will expand to 12 teams.

“Through our television channels — ESPN, Star Sports & Star Cricket, our website http://www.espnstar.com, and our wireless platforms mobileESPN and Star Sports Mobile, we are confident of taking the Champions League Twenty20 to new heights,” said ESS managing director Manu Sawhney.

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