ESPN International is a family of networks around the world. It was begun in 1989 and is operated by ESPN Inc.
ESPN International does not directly operate its own channels in Canada, but owns a 20 percent voting interest (and slightly larger equity interest) in CTV Specialty Television, a subsidiary of the Canadian media company Bell Media. Canadian regulations on the foreign ownership of broadcasters prohibit ESPN from acquiring majority interest.
CTV Specialty Television in turn operates the following sports television channels:
Although these channels have mainly retained their local brands (ESPN having acquired part-ownership several years after TSN and RDS launched), they now mostly have ESPN-style logos and use other ESPN branding elements. TSN has also adopted the SportsCentre title for its sports highlights programs.
Through CTV Specialty, ESPN also has an indirect interest in Discovery Channel Canada and several related channels, which are operated in partnership with Discovery Communications. These holdings date to CTV Specialty's previous incarnations as Labatt Communications and later as NetStar Communications, in which ESPN also held a minority interest. ESPN is not believed to have any involvement with the Discovery operations.
ESPN is also indirectly associated with TSN Radio, a brand used by several sports radio stations (each wholly owned by Bell Media), each of which also carries a limited amount of ESPN Radio programming.
In February 2016, ESPN and Tencent reached an agreement of collaboration. ESPN's content will be localized and exclusively distributed and promoted by Tencent's digital platforms in China, including college basketball games, the X Games and an ESPN section on QQ.com.
In July 2013, ESPN announced that it would shut down its television networks in Africa, Middle East and Israel, citing a "strategic business decision" to focus on digital content and syndication for these regions.
In June 2012, News Corporation acquired ESPN's 50% stake in its joint venture ESPN STAR Sports. Most of the networks were re-branded as either STAR Sports or Fox Sports following the purchase (even after the latter's 2013 corporate split, in which most of the Fox's and STAR's properties became part of 21st Century Fox).
In February 2013, BT Group acquired ESPN's UK and Ireland television channel and remaining broadcasting contracts. Its domestic channel was re-branded as BT Sport ESPN, integrating it with the company's BT Sport channel group (which had outbid ESPN for the rights to its share of the Premier League). In January 2015, BT Sport and ESPN reached a seven-year agreement to continue licensing ESPN's brand for the channel, as well as British rights to ESPN original programming and events whose international rights are owned by ESPN International. The agreement also allows for joint digital media initiatives between the two companies.