ESPN Exits News Corp. JV in Asia


NEW YORK/BRISTOL/HONG KONG: News Corporation is taking 100-percent control of the ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) joint venture, which operates sports networks across 24 Asian markets.

ESPN says the move to offload its 50-percent stake in ESS will give it "more independence and flexibility in future support of The Walt Disney Company’s overall efforts in Asia." John Skipper, the president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, noted, “After 16 years jointly managing ESS, we have decided to independently pursue future opportunities in Asia. We are extremely proud of our role in building ESS into what it is today, and now with the growing digital landscape in Asia, we look forward to continuing to serve Asian sports fans through ESPN-branded digital businesses like ESPNCricinfo, the leading digital cricket brand in the world, ESPNFC and ESPN Mobile.”

James Murdoch, the deputy COO and chairman and CEO of international at News Corporation, added, “News Corporation’s acquisition of the interest of ESS that we did not already own continues the program of simplifying our operating model, consolidating our affiliate ownership structures, and furthers our commitment to delivering incredible sports programming to consumers across the globe, and particularly enhancing our position in sports programming in emerging markets."

With the change in ownership, Manu Sawhney, ESS’s managing director, is stepping down effective August 31. ESS will now be managed by Peter Hutton, currently the senior VP of sports for FOX International Channels (FIC).