The New Pay TV Landscape in Ireland

Sky Sports has unveiled the cost of it’s new Sky Sports Extra package which goes a long way towards clarifying the cost and availability to view of many of the biggest sporting rights packages that you would potentially pay for.

Over recent years the rights picture and the options that faced consumers who want to see everything has been one of rapid change and splinter.

The two biggest players in the Premier League market, which remains the poster child for Pay Per View have been Sky Sports who were there from the start in 1992, and BT Sport who emerged after a number of others had tried as a serious challenger.

When the latter bought the exclusive rights to the Champions League for more than One Billion Euro’s back in 2015 it was a statement of intent that they were in this for the long run.

Broadband

Renewal in 2018 and a commitment to retaining them again in 2021 proved that BT Sport, with its UK model of providing the service free to those who paid for the company’s fast broadband service, was here for the long haul.

In Ireland, it provided a significant boost to eir Sport who won the right to broadcast the channels here alongside their own Sports channels as part of an eir Sport bundle.

Again this was free to those who opted for eir’s fibre broadband package but was also available through Sky’s distribution network albeit forcing a double payment to those who wanted to view all of the Premier League and Champions’ League action.

Earlier this year though the game changed again when BT Sport and Sky Sports reached agreement on carrying each other’s channels.

From August 1st BT Sport, ESPN and Box Nation will no longer be available to eir subscribers or on the eir Sports bundle.

Rugby World Cup

If there could be a good time for such a blow however it would be now with eir Sport the only channel that will have exclusive coverage here to every game in the Rugby World Cup and to the Guinness PRO14.

It shares the coverage of Ireland’s games at the World Cup and the latter stages of knockout action with RTÉ and one game each weekend in the Guinness PRO14 with TG4 but Rugby fans will still be drawn.

eir Sport will also retain coverage of matches in the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues and in the AIB GAA Club Championship but the loss of the BT Sport content does significantly lessen the wider appeal of eir Sport.

It was under pressure from Virgin Media’s capture of Champions’ League here last year and their setting up a new Virgin Media Sport network which provides coverage of all games as well as those which are shown Free to Air on Virgin Media One.

The insight of Irish commentators like Tommy Martin, Niall Quinn and Brian Kerr is a big plus for Virgin who provide the paid element of the Sport service for free to Virgin TV subscribers, for €10 a month to Virgin Broadband users or for €20 a month standalone with no contract via an exclusive app which is likely to appeal to younger generations more likely to consume on phones rather than the big box in the corner.

Sky Sports Extra is the combined offering from Sky which will now have all the content from Sky Sports, BT Sport and the UK content of Premier Sports which shows every game from the Guinness PRO14 live in Britain but not here. It has it’s own package of Saturday 3 PM games in the Premier League as well.

Package

All in the new package will cost €10 on top of the normal Sky Sports Package for an initial six months rising to an additional €20. The Basic Sky Sports Package costs €20 at an introductory level rising to €40.

This will be on top of the basic Sky package which will cost €16 rising to €32 a month.

So in short for those who want everything that those three broadcasters can throw at you including 233 Live Premier League Games, every game from the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, all the Euro 2020 Qualifiers, all NFL, Formula One, Cricket, MMA, every Golf Major and European and PGA Tour event and more, you will be paying €46 a month for the first six months and €92 a month thereafter.

If you are more of a dip in, dip out viewer you can buy Sky Now weekend passes which give you full temporary access for €20 with no contract.

The eir Sport pack for non eir Broadband customers will cost €29.99 a month on top of that, or €299 for a full year.

There is of course still a huge and growing volume of content free to air on RTÉ, TG4 and Virgin Media.  World Cups and Olympics, the Euro’s, the biggest games in the Rugby World Cup, the Six Nations and most of the games in the GAA, LGFA and Camogie All Ireland Championships, the Cheltenham Festival and the Galway Races are all available for no more than the annual cost of a TV license at €160.

But if you have to have it all,  looking to have all three of the major sports broadcasters with all their paywall content at the touch of three buttons, whenever you want it, will cost you in the region of €1,800 per year.

There will be discounts and offers that can reduce that depending on your broadband provider and such but the power of sport is such that it will be seen by enough people to make it pay, to make that commitment.

Read More: Streaming the Future of Sport

Listen Back: Rob Hartnett was on Newstalk Breakfast talking about the cost of Pay TV this morning. 

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