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ESPN targets Premier League rights

ESPN president John Skipper has said the US sports broadcaster will bid for the next set of rights to football’s English Premier League, but added it would seek to partner with another media company.

Media company NBCUniversal currently holds the rights to the top division of English football under a three-year deal running from 2013-14 to 2015-16.

Speaking at a press conference, Skipper said he expects negotiations for the EPL’s next rights deal to commence next spring, adding: “We'll be interested in it. We love the English Premier League.”

Skipper stressed that ESPN would likely seek a partner for a rights bid owing to its commitments to other sports properties during the Premier League season. He said: “What we try to do is spread the rights around a little bit. I don't know whether we could do an all-in deal.”

NBCU ended the first season of its current deal with the EPL by broadcasting live all 10 matches of Sunday’s final day of the 2013-14 campaign on 10 different channels – the first time the season-ending games aired on network television in the US at the same time.

Skipper praised the initiative, adding: “I watched Sunday and we could do that. But what they do on Saturday, we don’t have the windows for. We could not do all those games.”