American sports channel ESPN will cease broadcasting in Israel at the end of the month, the television network announced Monday. Israel’s cable and satellite providers, HOT and YES, confirmed the news.
In a statement, ESPN said it had decided to stop broadcasting across the Middle East and Africa. “This was a strategic business decision made by ESPN,” the statement said. “At this point in time, ESPN will focus on its digital and content syndication businesses in the EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] region.”
The announcement comes as a blow to local fans of American sports - including football and baseball, which are not widely broadcast in Israel - and of the network’s popular news and analysis programs, including “SportsCenter” and “Pardon the Interruption.”
“This really, really upsets me,” said Tel Aviv resident and sports fan Assaf Gvili, when informed about the decision on Sunday night. “We don’t have many options to watch American football in Israel, and that’s really the only thing I like to watch. On Sport 5, they show one game a week, but it’s not enough - and usually it’s not a good game.”
Several viewers said they would consider cancelling their cable subscriptions as a result of ESPN’s move.
For more go to Haaretz