Eir expected to hold talks with Sky over BT Sport
Sky ‘open to discussions with other platforms’ about BT Sport availability
Sky Ireland’s deal with BT Sport means local Sky subscribers will gain access to 180 Premier League games, the Uefa Champions League and Europa League, and the rugby Heineken Cup through their Sky subscription. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA
Eir is expected to seek discussions with its rival Sky Ireland about a potential deal to keep BT Sport on its television platform, after Sky announced that it would become BT’s “exclusive” distribution partner from next summer.
The deal means Sky will offer for the first time BT’s various sport channels to its Irish customers through their Sky subscription service. BT Sport is also currently available in Ireland as part of a bundled television offering by Eir.
“Eir sport is in constant dialogue with rights holders and will continue to invest in delivering the very best in sports content to our customers in the 2018/2019 season and beyond,” said Eir.
Sky said it had not made any plans yet on how it would distribute BT Sport in the Irish market, “but [we are] open to having discussions with other platforms”.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said it would “monitor developments” following Sky’s deal with BT.
The partnership is being touted by Sky and BT as a “long-term extension and expansion” of a wider deal that was announced for the UK last December.
Under that arrangement, the broadcasting rivals agreed to cross-supply content to each other, helping to boost their respective offerings in the face of competition from subscription services such as Amazon and Netflix.
The December deal to supply channels to each other’s UK platforms did not apply to Ireland, however. In the UK, BT also agreed to act as billing agent and to sell Now TV on Sky’s behalf, opening up channels such as Sky Atlantic to BT customers in Britain.
JD Buckley, managing director of Sky Ireland, welcomed the partnership with BT Sport as “fantastic news”, he said, for its local customer base. The arrangement will be in place ahead of the beginning of next English football season.
The Irish deal, the companies announced on Wednesday morning, means local Sky subscribers will now gain access to 180 Premier League games, the Uefa Champions League and Europa League, and the rugby Heineken Cup all through their Sky subscription.