ESPN 'very surprised' by BT's bid for Premier League rights

NEW YORK - ESPN was "very surprised" by BT's knockout bid for the Premier League broadcast rights, according to Eric Johnson, the ESPN executive vice-president, global multimedia sales.

Premier League: BT outbid ESPN for broadcast rights in 2012
Premier League: BT outbid ESPN for broadcast rights in 2012

At an Advertising Week session in New York, Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP chief executive asked Johnson whether he was surprised about the price BT bid to broadcast live Premier League games.

Johnson said: "Yes we were very surprised. But they had a very different business model. Establishing their brand and creating a direct-to-consumer business opportunity."

BT outbid the Walt Disney Company-owned ESPN for rights to the Premier League in 2012, which led to ESPN scaling back its UK operations and selling its UK and Ireland TV business to BT.

When asked why the cost of sports rights was "immeasurably rising", Johnson said it was because a lot of companies were "realising it's great content" that is consumed "live" (96 per cent of ESPN is consumed live).

Johnson continued: "A lot of advertisers and companies are realising it’s a great content place to be."

Sorrell interviewed Johnson alongside Russell Wallach, the president at Live Nation Media & Sponsorship, Jim Lanzone, the president and chief executive at CBS Interactive, and Lisa Utzschneider, the vice-president, global advertising sales at Amazon Media Group.


Become a member of Campaign from just £51 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an alert now

Partner content