Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has bought the Walt Disney Company’s stake in ESPN Star Sports. As a result, News Corp. subsidiary Fox International Channels will now solely direct the programming of the Asian sports broadcaster, including the telecasts of Singapore-based MMA promotion One Fighting Championship.
The buyout was announced on Wednesday, and Sherdog.com confirmed the news with a source close to One FC. The two media conglomerates each held 50 percent ownership of the joint venture, partnering to run ESPN Star Sports (ESS) for 16 years.
Victor Cui, One FC owner and CEO, previously served as a senior director at ESS before launching the MMA promotion, which also holds broadcast deals with a handful of other networks in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that operate in conjunction with One FC's 10-year broadcast deal with ESS.
According to a source close to the situation, One FC officials were aware of the potential buyout when the aforementioned deal was signed in January and now welcome the development in the wake of Fox's seven-year deal with the UFC. That reported $700 million arrangement has seen the UFC featured heavily in primetime across Fox's various networks in the United States, and Sherdog's source relayed that One FC is optimistic that its relationship with Fox could lead to increased exposure in the Asian market.
One FC is currently broadcast via tape delay on various ESS channels across Asia, with events being broken up into individual “episodes” consisting of three to four fights, depending on length. One FC events are also streamed live worldwide, most recently on YouTube. Events are called by ESS on-screen talent Steve Dawson alongside former fighter and reality TV personality Jason Chambers.
ESS airs programming in 24 Asian countries across 28 networks. The network airs content in five languages and owns broadcast rights to the NBA, the PGA Tour, the FIFA World Cup, the English Premier League, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the 2012 Summer Olympics and a bevy of cricket leagues, among other offerings.