Setanta Sports USA to Cease Operations Next Month

Just 7 months ago financially strained Irish sports channel Setanta Sports had to cease their UK operations after 19 years. It looks like they weren’t doing much better in the US, and have agreed to relinquish their rights to FOX Sports International and will shut down at the end of next month.

New York, NY, January 27th, 2010 – Setanta Sports has today announced that it has reached an agreement with Fox Soccer Channel to transfer select programming rights, including many premium soccer and rugby events.  Fox Soccer Channel will acquire these rights effective March 1, 2010.

Setanta Sports also announced that it will cease broadcasting its channel in the United States and the Caribbean on February 28th 2010.

For the remainder of January and throughout February, Setanta will continue to broadcast normally and will feature its usual line up of top games from the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, Heineken Cup, Magners League and Guinness Premiership.

Commenting on the transaction, Leonard Ryan, Co-Founder of Setanta Sports said “This is a significant milestone in the re-organisation of Setanta Sports, following the acquisition of Setanta’s businesses in Ireland, the US, Canada and Australia in July 2009.  Having examined several options for our US business, we concluded that the best course of action for the Group is to exit the US market and to concentrate on other markets where we can be a more substantial player in sports television.  This transaction enables us to achieve that objective and to explore new opportunities in other markets.”

It keeps getting worse and worse for Setanta. Lucky for them this won’t affect the Canadian branch.

FOX will create a new digital cable channel tentatively named “Fox Soccer Plus”, and it will launch the day after Setanta US folds. I wonder why they named it that when they knew they would get Rugby rights. Something tells me they’re going to be sublicensing some of that.

There will be more info on FSP regarding their soccer rights as well as which cable companies will offer this channel in the coming weeks.

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