BT sport loss an own goal Eir should be looking to avoid
Cantillon: Eir has clearly decided that there is a cap on the price it is willing to pay
Since Eir was taken over by French group Illiad it has become clear that it does not see television as a core focus. Photograph: Maxwells
Eir Sport was launched to the world three years ago this week, picking up where Setanta left off.
It’s likely to be a muted celebration following BT’s decision to move to rival Sky as the Irish home for its sports package.
Rather than having an extensive suite of sports events to tempt customers, Eir’s package will be reduced to its own content. That includes 48 games from this year’s Rugby World Cup, all 152 games from the Rugby Pro14 and Allianz League football and hurling coverage.
That’s a blow for those customers who subscribed to Eir solely, or mainly, because of the content in the BT package – such as its Champions League and Premier League football coverage – it’s hard to see why they’d hang around when so much of the content for which they signed up is gone.
Eir is believed to be in discussions with Sky on whether it can offer the BT sports package as an add-on but there is, as yet, no clarity on that.
It has become clear since Eir was taken over by French group Illiad that it does not see television as a core focus. This was highlighted by the departure of high profile executives, including Glen Killane who served as managing director of Eir Sport and Eir Television.
In a game where broadband subscribers are the prize, Eir has clearly decided that there is a cap on the price it is willing to pay. And that doesn’t match what Sky was willing to offer.
Perhaps that will turn out to be a good business strategy but, in the short term, Sky is likely to benefit from the transfer of a portion of Eir’s subscribers.
But if Eir Sport isn’t heading for the exit, the loss of BT’s package is just the sort of own goal the company should be looking to avoid.