Cricket rights to ESPN Star

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, 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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