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Discovery Unit Buys Setanta Sports Asia

Discovery Communications continues to beef up its sports holdings, with international unit Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific snapping up Setanta Sports Asia for an undisclosed sum.

Setanta Sports Asia specializes in rugby – it offers about 500 matches annually – and reaches more than 42 million homes across 16 countries. Key programming includes rights to the European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, National Rugby League, Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12. Recently, Setanta reached a five-year renewal of SANZAR  (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) rights, including all home international matches, plus Super Rugby.

Discovery has been aggressive in buying sports channels overseas, starting with its May 2014 acquisition of Pan-European sports network Eurosport. In March, Discovery partnered with Liberty Global to buy a minority stake in Formula E Holdings, a European racing circuit that focuses on electricity-powered vehicles.  

 “The acquisition of Setanta Sports Asia is an important investment for Discovery as we further build scale and expand our business in Asia.  Just over a year ago, Discovery gained a controlling interest in Eurosport – a bold play that took our company into the exciting arena of sports,” said Discovery Networks International president JB Perrette in a statement. “Similar to the strategy we have adopted for Eurosport, we will look to build on the strengths of Setanta and fortify its leadership as a must-have sports channel across Asia.”

Perrette added: “We will continue our steady investment in premium sports for Asia.  The recent investments in the exclusive media rights for Champions League in Singapore on Eurosport, and now Setanta Sports Asia, demonstrate our commitment to building our portfolio and presence in the region.  We are also very pleased to have Peter Hutton, who joined us a few months ago as CEO of Eurosport, leading the strategy of our newest global brand.  Peter has excelled in the sports media business and his extensive international experience in multiple markets, including Asia, will boost our momentum.”

In total, Setanta Sports Asia airs more than 500 rugby matches per season on HD and SD feeds across the region.  The channel’s multi-device player, Setanta Sports Plus, is widely accessible through online, tablets and smartphones.