You may not have heard of ESPN, but the sports TV giant and its European chief Lynne Frank probably know you. ESPN launched archive sports channel ESPN Classic in 2006, a presence it augmented later that year with the purchase of the North American Sports Network.
Frank, ESPN senior vice-president and managing director, EMEA, lives in London and has worked in UK television for 15 years. And yet she is aware that many British sports fans have not heard of her, nor do they know what ESPN stands for (Entertainment Sports Programming Network), by the way.
However, that is about to change as ESPN starts broadcasting top-tier, live British sport in the UK for the first time. ESPN and its backers, Hearst and Disney-owned ABC, have flexed their rather ripped muscles - Disney's market capitalisation is in excess of $40bn - to sign a string of cheques, thought to total well north of £300m. In the past month alone, ESPN's spending spree includes live rights to top English, Scottish, European and US football games, plus the Australian Football League.
But the game changer was ESPN's acquisition of English Premier League rights for the next four seasons - 46 games for the new season that kicks off this Saturday and 23 in each of the following three - in a deal thought to total £250m, after the collapse of Setanta's UK arm.
California-raised Frank, who joined ESPN five years ago following a 12-year stint with Turner Broadcasting, declares: "It [buying English Premier League rights] is clearly a big step for us. It is fantastic for our business and our brand and it will really help create a compelling sports offering for British fans."
Like most Premier League managers, battling the clock to buy star players as the transfer window nears a close, ESPN's biggest enemy has been lack of time. But within weeks ESPN managed to build a new channel - the eponymously named ESPN, which launched on 3 August - to house its treasure chest of rights.
ESPN has hired presenters such as BBC stalwart Ray Stubbs and Sky Sports News' Kelly Cates (née Daglish), and has struck distribution deals for the new channel with Sky, Virgin Media, Top Up TV and BT Vision.
Having acquired so many rights, the business has opted to retain ESPN America as a separate entity rather than fold it into the new ESPN channel, as initially planned. The move means ESPN has three channels - ESPN, ESPN America and ESPN Classic - and its executives admit to working "from seven am to midnight" in recent weeks.
But if Setanta could not build a successful UK business on the back of live rights to Premier League football, why should ESPN be able to do so? Frank, honourably refuses to comment on Setanta's demise, but is plotting to avoid its pitfalls.
She says: "We believe having good relationships with retailers - experienced retailers - is the best way to make the business work." In other words, she won't spend millions on marketing and staffing call centres to sell directly to consumers, as Setanta did to most of its subscribers.
Another key difference is that while Setanta saw itself as a rival to Mur-doch's BSkyB, it is clear ESPN wants a more complementary relationship. For example, Sky will sell ESPN's airtime and produce its Premier League coverage. This may have something to do with the companies' close links. In Asia, the two run one of the world's biggest TV networks, the ESPN Star Sports joint venture. Back in the UK, Sky is a crucial outlet for ESPN backer Disney's programming and Disney is a vital subscriber draw for Sky.
Anyone doubting ESPN's credentials to cover our top-flight football should look at its international operations. It has been broadcasting Champions League and English Premier League games worldwide for years, and is said to have done as much for sports coverage in the US as Sky has done in the UK. In the US, ESPN has six TV channels, magazines, restaurants and clothing ranges, plus 45 channels internationally.
While the forecast appears to be set fair for the big ESPN kick-off, the long-term outlook is less clear. From the 2010/11 English Premier League season, it will air half as many games as this season.
So, will ESPN subscribers still fork out about a tenner a month? "Clearly, we recognise this will have an impact on our business," Frank says. "That's why we are ensuring we have other rights and why we want a compelling mix of content including news and information. But we will still have 23 [Premier League] games in 2010/11 - a sixth of the greatest sport in the country - and that will still drive the business."
Despite claims from some analysts that they are natural rivals, Frank is keen to point out that Sky and ESPN can and will continue to work together. But the opportunity for ESPN to position itself as the pre-eminent sports broadcaster in the UK is there for the taking long term.
In its recent pay-TV market probe, Ofcom dropped a strong hint it wants to change the rules that determine how many Premier League games Sky can broadcast. Frank comments: "We look forward to hearing how the regulation evolves. If rights become available, then we will pursue those."
She is unwilling to disclose ESPN's business or subscriber targets while the new channel is in its infancy, but insists: "We have multiple businesses in the UK market and we will get them all to work. We are adding to our investments sensibly and we expect a return on our investment."
2007 Senior vice-president, EMEA, ESPN
2005 Managing director, EMEA, ESPN
1993 Managing director, European Entertainment Networks, Turner Broadcasting
Desert island media
Mad Men box set, anything by Ryan Adams, the LA Quartet novels by James Ellroy
North West London
Riviera Maya, Mexico
In 1966, in Frankfurt, but raised in California
Brett Foraker, commercials director and creative director, Channel 4
Anything cooked on an open fire
The Godfather 1 and 2
Her ESPN legacy: My legacy would be to have launched a UK sports channel from scratch with Premier League content and to have created a company. And to do what we did in the UK and pull it off in other European countries - that would be brilliant.
Who she wants to win the Premier League: I will be very happy if Manchester United continue to be at the top of the league.
Plans for ESPN's first TV game: Some of us will go to Goodison Park [where Everton play Arsenal this Saturday] and some of us will stay in Hammersmith [at ESPN's international HQ]. We don't want to get in the way of those people getting the product to air.
The UK media market: It's a great market because there is a huge group of sports fans and a proven track record of people prepared to pay for sports. This is a great time for us to be here in a sports-mad country. It's a perfect time to be coming in.