Eir moves into TV with Setanta Sports takeover

Acquisition of sports broadcaster will give Eir platform to compete with Virgin Media

Ireland's biggest telecoms group Eir (formerly Eircom) confirmed on Monday that it is to expand its TV offering with the acquisition of international sports pay television broadcaster Setanta Sports for an undisclosed sum. The move will pit the company against rival cable TV and broadband provider Virgin Media.

The acquisition will allow Eir to “significantly expand” its TV offering and “further enhance the range of propositions on offer to customers”.

Eir would not comment on the sale price this morning, but industry sources have previously suggested that Setanta could be worth up to €20 million.

"Buying Setanta Sports Ireland is a game changer for eir and is our largest acquisition since we purchased Meteor in 2005," said Richard Moat, chief executive of Eir.

Jon Florsheim, managing director of Eir Consumer, said that the deal will propel Eir into the content space.

“We are confident the eir brand together with our great value bundles will now appeal to even more households.”

Setanta Sports was launched in Ireland in 2004 and it operates two sports channels in Ireland and has hi-tech production facilities in Dublin's city centre. It offers a range of exclusive sports content including Live Barclays Premier League Games, every UEFA Champions League game and exclusive Europa League games, and exclusive European Rugby Champions Cup games. BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and BT Sport ESPN are also available as part of the Setanta Sports Pack in the Republic of Ireland. Setanta's annual revenues are about € 30 million and it told The Irish Times in March that it had "well over" 100,000 subscribers in Ireland, across various platforms.

The deal will require the approval of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission together with the approval of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources before completion. Those processes will commence with formal notifications in the coming weeks.