ESPN Et Al Must Spend Big To Beat Debt-Happy Setanta On Premier Rights

Still unprofitable, Setanta Sports seems intent on further debting itself to the hilt, if this weekend newspaper story is true: says the Irish subscription TV outfit is considering selling a further equity stake or going to the debt markets to finance a further Premier League rights buy-up…

Against all the odds, Setanta has been steadily eating away at Sky Sports’ stranglehold, taking 46 live Premiership games for £392 million against Sky’s 92 in the current Premiership settlement and last week buying about two third of Guinness Premiership rugby rights from under Sky’s nose. Now it may enlist Close Brothers to advise how to raise still more money to buy more Premiership football games, starting 2010.

ESPN (NYSE: DIS), currently strengthening its brand in Europe, has already staked out its interest in Premiership rights, while also fingers BBC and BT (NYSE: BT) Vision, which, as a platform that carries Setanta doesn’t necessarily need to bid for live games, though it may want to renew its VOD rights.