ESPN Inc. will make its first branded foray on The Continent next year.
The sports giant said it will roll out ESPN Classic Sport in France early
next year. The network -- which will feature a variety of vintage soccer matches
as well as golf, rubgy, skating, skiing, tennis matches from Wimbledon, the
French Open and the Australian Open, Tour de France cycling and legendary boxing
matches -- is expected to reach some 2.5 million homes through carriage deals
with satellite operators CanalSatellite and TPS.
ESPN Classic Sport is 70 percent owned by ESPN and 30 percent owned by the
investment firm Sports Capital Partners.
Trans World International, the TV arm of International Management Group, will
provide a variety of support services to the venture, including production and
ESPN said in a statement that it will launch in other major European markets
over the next several years.
The company's headquarters and main production facilities will be in London,
while Paris will be home to sales, marketing and local production staff.
The company has had a European presence in the past with an equity interest
in Eurosport, the pan-European sports network. However, an ESPN spokesman said
the company sold its stake in May 2000, as a precursor to begin launching its
own branded networks in Europe.
In addition to supplying programming to outlets around the globe, ESPN has
equity interests or direct control of more than 26 networks outside of the