Virgin Media Ireland extends Sky deal, drops Eir Sports

Pay-television operator Virgin Media Ireland has signed a multi-year extension to a carriage deal with pay-television broadcaster Sky after opting to drop its rival Eir Sports.

Virgin said it has secured a long term agreement for the ongoing carriage of a number of Sky channels – including Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports News HQ and the new Sky Sports Mix offering.

The agreement will give Virgin Media Ireland customers access to 159 live English Premier League games per season, which includes 33 live matches on Saturdays – a package only available in Ireland.

Virgin said that it is dropping the Eir Sports pack from July 31, adding that a new deal didn’t offer commercial value.

Bill Blake, Virgin Media Ireland’s head of television content, added: “Sky is offering 159 live Premier Leagues games compared to 42 in the Eir Sports Pack, and the (Uefa) Champions League top pick games are on RTE and Virgin Media-owned TV3 for 2016-17.

“At Virgin the customer is at the heart of all our content decisions and the significant reduction in content by over 40 per cent within the Eir Sports pack made the economics of offering the pack to our customers unsustainable.

“We have made every effort to agree commercial terms with Eir Sport that reflect the reduced value within their sports pack however their pricing was excessive and simply wasn’t realistic relative to their content offering which has essentially been halved.”

Irish telecommunications company Eir acquired pay-television service Setanta Sports in late 2015 for an undisclosed sum, rebranding it to Eir Sports earlier this month.