The labyrinthine world of sports media consumption took another twist yesterday with the news that Sky and Premier Sports have agreed on an exclusive channel distribution partnership in Ireland.
It will see a substantial suite of Premier Sports’ sporting rights become available to Sky customers from this summer. The move follows a previous announcement from Sky in October last year which confirmed Sky as the exclusive distribution partner for BT Sport in Ireland.
Premier Sports shot to prominence last year when becoming the lead broadcaster, with exclusive coverage rights across Britain for the Guinness PRO14.
The announcement of yesterday’s new agreement with Sky does not include any reference to the tournament, the rights for which in Ireland were bought at the same time, and on the same exclusive territorial basis by eir Sport and through a sublicense deal with TG4 for the broadcast of one game free to air from each round.
When we contacted eir Sport yesterday they told us that “negotiations between eir sport and Sky Sports, who own the distribution rights to the BT Sports channels in the Republic of Ireland, are ongoing. The BT Sports and Premier Sports channels remain part of the eir sport pack for the immediate future.”
Premier Sports also have the rights to show the same suite of games from the GAA Allianz Leagues in Northern Ireland that are shown in the republic by eir Sport and from this year with four of the games on RTÉ.
It is clear that exclusivity is the sticking point here and it must remain to be seen how the circle will be squared between eir sport, Premier Sport and Sky Sport in relation to those shared territorial rights.
For the moment Premier is talking up the other elements in its suite including 53 games from the Premier League, Serie A, Scottish football, Schools Rugby, Ice Hockey and NASCAR.
The gathering of those means that Sky will now have all games that are televised in any format from the Premier League, a total of 233 from next season.
Sky Sports in Ireland is already home to UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers, UEFA Nations League, the English Football League Championship, all the golf majors, exclusive GAA fixtures, Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, F1, NFL, NBA, WNBA and lots more.
From this summer and into next season, through its partnership with BT Sport, Sky customers will also gain access to the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, Heineken Champions Cup Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Moto GP, WTA tennis and world-class boxing.
This will be the first time Sky is able to provide BT Sport and Premier Sports to its customers directly as part of a Sky bundle or on a standalone basis. The details of how those packages will be structured has yet to be published.
“This is fantastic news for Sky customers in Ireland who can now watch all their favourite sports under one roof,” said JD Buckley, MD of Sky Ireland.
“For the first time ever, we’ll be showing every single Premier League game as well as Champions League, Heineken Champions Cup Rugby, all the golf majors and exclusive GAA fixtures. It’s going to be a very exciting summer of live sport.”
“Premier Sports will broadcast 53 Premier League games including all Saturday 3 pm fixtures which have become such an important weekly fixture with Irish soccer fans,” added Mickey O’Rourke, CEO of Premier Sports.
“In addition, Premier will broadcast 10 games over St Stephens Day and the 27th December as well as 10 games mid-week in early December. Premier Sports is delighted to have entered into this partnership with Sky which means more viewers than ever will have access to all of the best sports content in one place.”
Virgin Media has rights to all Champions’ League games as well and stresses the exclusively Irish commentary and analysis which it provides on Virgin Media One free to air as well as on the subscription channels through Virgin Sport.
It is too early to say how this will impact on customers and what they will have to pay in order to ensure they have access to every kick of every ball no matter what shape.
We will continue to bring you all the news and analysis though as the changes develop more fully.
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Image Credit: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile