Sky Italia grabs ESPN service

NASN to supply 800 hours of sport

ROME — Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia is launching ESPN’s North American Sports Network in Italy in a move that will make Yank sports available to Italians in unprecedented doses.

Sky Italia’s Sky Sport package will offer more than 800 hours of live high-definition syndicated American sports fare annually to sports-crazed Italians via NASN, including the NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL and NCAA college football. The channel will debut Tuesday on Sky Italia, which has 4.4 million subscribers.

The agreement is expected to drive up subs at Sky Italia and marks ESPN’s largest international HD programming pact. NASN will now provide the bulk of Sky Italia’s HD sports programming.

For ESPN, the Sky Italia deal will expand NASN’s reach into some 13 million households across 40 countries.

“Italy is an important market with a strong fan base for the wide range of sports ESPN delivers and we look forward to serving them further,” said Lynne Frank, ESPN senior VP for Europe, Middle East and Africa in a statement.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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