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ESPN Using Cricket, Rugby Sites As Beachhead To Premiership Bid

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US sports TV network ESPN wants to use the web as a Trojan horse in to the UK market. The Disney (NYSE: DIS) unit bought cricket site CricInfo from Wisden and rugby site Scrum.com earlier this year, will roll out ScoreCenter – a live scores site covering 23 sports in 180 countries – early in 2008 and is also planning to launch its ISP-bundled video service ESPN 360 in Europe. Now its president George Bodenheimer told FT.com he is “absolutely interested” in acquiring Premier League rights, currently owned by BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) and Setanta: “We’re going to work on getting as local as we can.” The CricInfo and Scrum.com acquisitions were “a good way to get started”, Bodenheimer said: “There are lower barriers to entry in setting up a website than if you are setting up a TV business.”