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
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.