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Sports rights deals ROI specific

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RD
rdd Founding member
It’s been suggested to me that we could have a thread specific to Irish sports rights coverage and deals.

A bit of background to start with. In Ireland we have no less than five (5!) premium sports broadcasters, along with our three terrestrial TV broadcasters. The biggest pay TV players are Sky Sports and BT Sport, both of which offer exactly the same content that they do in the U.K. The remaining players are Premier Sports, eir Sport (both Irish owned) and Virgin Media Sport (owned by Liberty Global/John Malone). Premier and eir share a common ancestor in Setanta, which sold its Irish operation to eir in 2015, but subsequently re-entered the market as Premier Sports after a period in which eir effectively acted as its affliate. Premier offers mostly the same lineup as the U.K., but without its Pro14 and GAA coverage. Instead it currently holds the Irish rights to 3pm games and Amazon games. Eir concentrates on the Pro14, spring league coverage of the GAA and FA Cup. VM Sport holds a collection of primarily UEFA club and international rights (not involving the Republic of Ireland. Amazon is not particularly a player here but does hold its tennis rights and NFL TNF.

Then there are the PSBs - RTÉ holds a large collection of rights but its flagships are the GAA Championships, Republic of Ireland competitive internationals and Champions League Tuesdays. It once had a lot of rugby but the autumn Internationals are really all that is left. VMTV has the Six Nations, Heineken Cup FTA rights and carries some football from its sports channel portfolio, with at least one Champions League and Europa League fixture being carried each week. TG4, the Irish language broadcaster, concentrated on club and women’s GAA and the Pro14 (mainly Connacht).

So what is happening?
- most imminently we are expecting a decision on the Champions League rights, with Virgin Media the current primary rights holders having walked away, and speculation that a new entrant has taken the spoils. RTÉ set to retain FTA coverage.
- the Six Nations contract will be next, and while VMTV are expected to make a big effort to retain a lot could hinge on whether a pay TV broadcaster can do a U.K. and Ireland deal.
- the Pro14 rights are also up at the end of this season and this is a crucial one for eir to retain.
- the big one of all, the GAA contract is up next year and a deal is expected to be done at the end of the year.
Last edited by rdd on 2 March 2021 8:50am
RD
rdd Founding member
I meant to add of course, that no Irish sports rights discussion is complete without mentioning the Premier League, which is also coming up in the next 12 months. If the GAA is Ireland’s most important domestic contract the Premier League is the most important overseas one.

Furthermore the Irish Premier League rights sale is somewhat unique in nature, in that it is the PL’s only overseas sale that is structured identically to the U.K. one, with the same packages A, B, C etc. The purpose of this is evidentially to facilitate the U.K. rights holders also acquiring the ROI rights to the same matches. There is typically also an extra package of one game each week Saturday 3pm. Last time a surprise occurred where for the first time one of the U.K. packages (that won by Amazon) went to a different bidder in the Irish market, Premier Sports which also won the 3pms. That 3pm package has turned out to be slightly worthless to them in COVID times due to the 3pms being broadcast in the U.K. but they have when awarded extra matches (Amazon’s and the BBC’s) to slightly compensate.

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