It was a boost to Irish Sports fans when Virgin Media and eir sport agreed a TV carriage deal in August 2019 but last night it fell apart with Virgin pulling its Champions League coverage from the eir Sports platform in a row over the payment of fees.
The drama of PSG beating Atalanta on Wednesday was available to watch across both networks but last night’s second Quarter Final between Red Bull Leipzig and Atletico Madrid was replaced on eir by a replay of Dublin Vs Kerry in Gaelic football.
At twenty past eight Virgin Media tweeted
We have suspended our supply of Virgin Media Sport and Virgin Media Sport Extra to eir Sport because, eir has failed to pay the contracted distribution licence fee.
Please refer to eir's technical support line: 1890 260 260, or contact @eircare.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) August 13, 2020
Negotiations had been taking place over what level of payment was seen to be fair given the truncated nature of this season’s Europa League and Champions’ League tournaments.
Both are being played out over a ten-day period with Man United already through the Semi-Finals of the former and Barcelona and Bayern Munich going head to head tonight in the marquee game of the latter.
That game will be broadcast free to air on RTÉ 2 from 7:30 this evening but the breakdown in relations between the two broadcasters could have a knock-on impact if eir Sport fight back by withdrawing their Guinness PRO14 coverage from Virgin platforms next weekend.
Under the agreement between the two, Virgin Media Sport has been available to eir customers as part of the eir sport pack and in turn, eir sport has been available to Virgin Media TV customers.
We wrote at the time that the deal had “drawn a line under an at times fractious standoff between the two broadcasters and broadens further the options that are available to viewers as part of the different broadband options.”
That could still be the case if negotiations recommence as a result of last night’s action.
In the meantime though an already complex map of how to watch whatever you want in sport has become a touch more complicated.
BT Sport coverage of the Champions’ League is available through Sky Sports Extra and Now TV.