ESPN to launch on 3rd August 2009

US sports broadcaster ESPN owned by The Walt Disney Company has today confirmed that it is to launch a new British channel in early August to show the 46 live Premier League matches it won last month following the collapse of Setanta.
The new channel, which will simply be called ESPN, will launch on 3 August ahead of the start of the new Premier League season on 15 August.
For residential customers, ESPN will be available on a premium subscription basis, for £9 a month to Sky Sports subscribers and for £12 a month to other Sky customers.
ESPN’s new UK channel will replace ESPN America on the Sky satellite and Virgin Media cable TV electronic programme guides.
The new channel will appear on the Sky electronic programme guide at number 417 with a high definition service at number 443. This will be ESPN’s first European HD channel.
A spokesman for ESPN said the broadcaster was also looking at acquiring other rights for the new UK channel.
“We are interested in rights when they become available and when they make business sense. If we were to acquire additional live rights for the UK market, it is likely they would be broadcast on this [ESPN] channel,” he added.
It is understood ESPN is looking at acquiring other UK sports rights previously held by Setanta, including live Scottish Premier League matches.
ESPN Classic, which shows great sporting moments, will remain on the EPG at number 442.
A range of US and international sports coverage broadcast on ESPN America will continue to feature on the new channel. It is thought that ESPN America could return at a later date as a separate UK channel in another EPG slot.
BSkyB, which owns the rights to show the remaining 92 live Premier League matches next season, will sell the new ESPN channel to both its residential and commercial customers alongside its own Sky Sports services.
The Sky Sports in-house production team will produce ESPN’s Premier League matches, while Sky’s advertising sales house will sell the advertising inventory. ESPN will produce its own graphics, analysis and additional programming.
ESPN won the right to show 46 live Premier League matches for the 2009/10 season, and 23 matches a season for the following three years, following a hastily arranged auction after previous owner Setanta went into administration last month.
“We hope football and sports fans will enjoy ESPN’s compelling mix of Barclays Premier League football, international sports and the best of the US sports in both SD [standard definition] and HD,” said Lynne Frank, ESPN’s managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“We look forward to working with Sky to deliver great sports content to their subscribers and will continue our discussions with all other pay-TV providers so that we can bring ESPN to as many sports fans in the UK as possible.”
Mike Darcey, Sky’s chief operating officer, added: “Our agreement with ESPN to retail its portfolio of sports channels ensures that we have certainty of distribution of all live Premier League matches to Sky homes, and further adds to the high-quality sports content our customers can enjoy, both in standard- and high-definition.”
ESPN International now includes more than 45 television networks outside of the US in 200 countries and territories.

Hong Kong Disneyland to expand

Reuters are reporting that Hong Kong has reached a deal with the Walt Disney Company to expand the Hong Kong Disney theme park, seen as necessary to bolster the park’s long-term prospects against a Shanghai rival, a government source said on Thursday.

The agreement is expected to be announced by June 30, with details of the deal to be laid out to local legislators in a special meeting next Tuesday.

The government source, who asked not to be named, said the meeting’s agenda would include the Disneyland deal and that a media report on the imminent announcement “was largely accurate”.

The Hong Kong Economic Times on Thursday reported that the deal was expected to be worth HK$7 billion ($903.3 million) of which HK$4 billion would be used for expansion.

But a Disney spokeswoman in the United States told Reuters that discussions were ongoing and that there was “no” deal yet.

The size of Hong Kong Disneyland, the smallest of Disney’s magic kingdoms, is expected to almost double, with construction to begin within a year, pending approval from the city’s legislative council in July, the newspaper reported.

The Hong Kong government, which owns 57 percent of the underperforming resort, desperately needs the expansion to boost flagging attendance, with a much larger rival Disneyland expected to be built in Shanghai in 2014 that could draw much visitor traffic from the burgeoning mainland China market.

“At this stage, we have to support the expansion, otherwise it will be very difficult to compete with Shanghai in five to six years time,” said legislator Fred Li of the Democratic Party, who said his party backed the expansion as long as Disney boosted its financial transparency in future on attendance figures.

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary John Tsang travelled to Los Angeles in May, where he met senior Disney executives. The trip is seen to have paved the way for the breakthrough after Disney earlier said it would stall any expansion amid the credit crunch.

The Walt Disney Compaly earlier indicated it would likely invest more capital in Hong Kong Disneyland and allow the Hong Kong government to convert its loans to equity to maintain its majority share of the theme park, a source involved in their talks told Reuters earlier.

Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009

Pop star Michael Jackson died in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon shortly after going into cardiac arrest.
Michael Jackson in the starring role of Captain EO, a former 3-D film attraction at Disney theme parks worldwide.
The “King of Pop” died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after being rushed by ambulance from his rented Holmby Hills home. A team of doctors tried to resuscitate Jackson for more than an hour before he was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm.
Jackson was age 50.
Theme park fans may remember the recording legend for his starring role in the Disney theme park attraction − Captain EO.

Directed by George Lucas and starring Jackson, Captain EO opened at EPCOT on September 12, 1986 and Disneyland Park on September 18, 1986. The attraction was also added to Tokyo Disneyland in 1987 and Disneyland Paris in 1992.
The $30 million Captain EO was the first Disney attraction to use 3-D special effects and it was also at the time the most costly film produced on a per-minute basis. The on-screen action was brought into the auditorium with laser effects, smoke, strobes and other off-screen effects.
Jackson recorded two original songs for the attraction − “Another Part of Me” and “We Are Here to Change the World”.
The attraction was eventually replaced at both Disneyland and EPCOT by the Honey I Shrunk The Audience 3D film. Its final showings were at the Disneyland Paris park on August 17, 1998.
Text: copyright Ultimate Rollercoaster

Michael Jackson visited Disneyland Paris in 1992, here are some photos and video footage of his visit.
Michael Jackson hugs Minnie Mouse during his visit to Disneyalnd Paris in 1992.

Disney Cruise hints at Europe plans

Here is a item from TTG Live reporting from the UK Cruise Convention which was recently held in Dover that hints at what a forthcoming Disney Cruise Line announcement might be.

Disney Cruise Line is expected to announce European deployment for its fleet after it takes delivery of two new ships, Fantasy and Dream, in 2011 and 2012.

The new ships will increase the line’s fleet to four and herald a push to grow a market outside of its core US for the first time. In the UK, leading retailer Reader Offers is already selling Disney cruises out of Dover and Barcelona to the Mediterranean and the Baltic next year.

To date, Disney has never had to promote its cruises in the UK because the popularity of the product meant it was guaranteed to sell out in the US. Peter Welch, Disney’s UK vice-president, gave delegates at the UK Cruise Convention in Dover this week a hint at what the forthcoming announcement might be.

“In the next few months we will be sharing information about what these two new ships will be doing,” he said.

“Needless to say we are here in Dover so that gives you a clue as to what might be happening.

“He said the line would be exploring new opportunities with the UK travel trade”.
“We constantly look at way to increase and develop our product while looking at new itineraries”.

“When we started our cruise line in the 90s we believed we could give our families a totally different experience”.

“Welch said he believed quality brands would come to the fore during the current economic crisis. “It’s quality brands that make a difference and make your industry a success,” he said.

“Events like this give us a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourselves in these wonderful brands but for Disney the key for us is to speak to you and to listen to you and what your consumers are telling you about the industry we are in.

“We look forward to the potential the UK market can give Disney Cruise Line.”

Disneyland Paris looks to London for new recruits.

Disneyland Paris plans to recruit 7,000 staff this year and the company has embarked on a European recruitment campaign to search for the right candidates.

On Wednesday 24th June HR staff from the resort are visiting the Walt Disney Company’s UK office in Hammersmith London to source employees for positions in sales, hotel and hospitality roles.

Employees recruited this week can sign contracts for the summer, Halloween or Christmas as well as open-ended contracts from September 2009.

Jean Noel Thiollier, director of employment and remuneration at Disneyland Paris, said: “Disneyland Paris is a unique and diverse company where 14,000 professionals from more than 100 nationas work in a single site. To reinforce our activity we are constantly seeking new talents in more than 500 vocations. “Working at Disneyland Paris is a chance to gain professional experience in an international environment, learn and grow.”

The organisation has launched a new websiteon which anyone, who is over 18 and can speak French can apply.

SingStar Singalong Disney for £4.59

If you are a SingStar fan you might be interested to know that Argos has SingStar Singalong Disney for sale at £4.59 in their End of Catalogue Sale which runs untill the 24 July.

Here is the track list:

101 Dalmatians – Cruella De Vil
Aladdin – A Whole New World
The Aristocats – Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat
Beauty And The Beast – Beauty And The Beast
Cinderella – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo
Cinderella – The Work Song
The Jungle Book – Bare Necessities
The Jungle Book – I Wanna Be Like You
Lady And The Tramp – He’s A Tramp
The Lion King – The Circle Of Life
The Lion King – I Just Can’t Wait To Be King
The Little Mermaid – Kiss The Girl
The Little Mermaid – Under The Sea
Peter Pan – Following The Leader
Peter Pan – You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!
Sleeping Beauty – I Wonder
Sleeping Beauty – Once Upon A Dream
Tarzan – Son Of Man
Toy Story – You’ve Got A Friend In Me
Winnie The Pooh – Winnie The Pooh