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News Corp. to Develop ESPN Rival: Report

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - The Walt Disney (DIS) owned sports-empire ESPN may soon have a rivalry as big as Yankees-Red Sox to talk about. Media giant News Corp (NWSA) is said to be planning a sports channel of its own.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is in talks to develop an all-sports network to challenge the ESPN empire, according to Bloomberg, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.

News Corp. is currently assembling the rights from pay-TV carriers and sports teams, although nothing is final, Bloomberg reported. The media giant may decide to rebrand its Fuel network, which already caters towards action sports, as a competitor to ESPN. Fuel is available to 36 million homes currently. News Corp. is said to have clearance from DirecTV (DTV), according to two people close to the matter.

ESPN has been a juggernaut for Disney since it acquired Capital Cities/ABC Television in 1996. In the most recent quarter, ESPN drove an increase of $196 million in operating income for the Cable Network segment of Disney, bringing the quarterly total to $967 million.

Both News Corp. and ESPN did not immediately return calls regarding the matter.

Disney shares closed down 64 cents, or 1.45%, at $43.51 on Wednesday. News Corp.'s stock ended the day down 51 cents, or 2.52%, at $19.74.

Interested in more on News Corp.? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

Check out our new tech blog, Tech Trends. Follow TheStreet Tech on your wireless devices.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/commodity_bull.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com Bloomberg reports that News Corp. is in the planning stages to develop an all sports network, and compete with ESPN.

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