Report: GolTV Sold

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The target audience for soccer network GolTV could get a lot wider.

SCP Worldwide -- whose principles include former Madison Square Garden and CSTV executives Dave Checketts and Chris Bevilacqua -- is said to be nearing a deal that would give the New York-headquartered sports, media and entertainment firm a majority stake in GolTV, which currently counts some 10 million satellite and cable subscribers.

SCP, according to a report in SportsBusiness Journal, evidently agreed to buy 80% of GolTV, which has gained carriage by offering its fútbol fare with either a primary Spanish-language or English audio feed, depending on whether it appears on Hispanic or sports tiers.

Neither party would confirm any deal specifics, but they did say they “reached an agreement on a partnership transaction.” New York-based Watch Hill Partners is advising the parties.

Through a joint statement, the companies said they “are not prepared to discuss any of the details surrounding our agreement other than to say that SCP Worldwide will bring its belief in the growth of soccer, its extensive and successful operating experience of cable networks and digital-media assets together with the impressive management team of GolTV and their extensive array of soccer-programming assets.”

Sources close to the negotiations indicated that the deal -- which could put SCP in an offsides competitive viewing position relative to domestic soccer circuit Major League Soccer, in which Checketts’ firm owns the Real Salt Lake franchise -- is expected to close within 30-60 days. MLS didn’t return phone calls by press time.

If the transaction is completed, GolTV -- which already showcases action from the top leagues in Spain (La Liga), Italy (Serie A), Germany (Bundesliga) and Brazil -- could proffer a host of World Cup qualifying matches involving South American nations.

SCP gained the rights to the 90-game, 10-nation qualifying tournament, including world soccer powers Brazil and Argentina, for the 2010 World Cup. The rights for the matches -- which kick off in September and conclude in November 2009 -- extend to cable, broadcast, satellite, broadband, Internet, wireless, video-on-demand, pay-per-view, DVD and downloadable platforms in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories.

Bevilacqua, who joined Checketts’ company in October, said SCP secured the rights from Buenos Aires-based Full Play, an agency that has broad relationships with each of the 10 South American nations’ soccer federations.

He noted that SCP has already had discussions about the South American qualifiers and potential international friendlies with European sides that are also part of its deal, with a number of outlets in the States.

“This package is worthy of broad distribution on a variety of different platforms,” Bevilacqua said.

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