Eir Sport secures rights to 2019 rugby world cup
New channel, Eir Sport, is rebranding by telco of Setanta Sports Ireland
Mickey O’Rourke, the Setanta founder who has stayed on as Eir Sport chief executive under the telco’s ownership, also announced the channel has acquired exclusive Irish rights for the 2019 rugby World Cup.
The exclusive Irish rights to the 2019 rugby world cup have been acquired by Eir Sports, the new name for Setanta Sports Ireland, which was acquired by Eir earlier this year. The deal also includes rights to the women’s world cup in 2017.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at Eir’s Dublin headquarters, where the rebranding was unveiled by senior executives at an event also attended by former rugby star, Brian O’Driscoll.
Eir has launched a new sports package of six channels, comprising the two former Setanta channels and four BT Sports channels. In a major drive to attract customers to its fibre broadband service, the sports pack will be free to all Eir broadband customers and subscribers to its Eir Vision television service.
Viewers on other platforms, such as Virgin Media, can also access the Eir Sport Pack, but must pay a monthly subscription fee.
Jon Florsheim, the managing director of Eir’s consumer division, said it decided to make the sports pack free to create “stickiness” on its internet platform. He said the sports pack would remain free for the next year at least, but it may look to introduce charges after this.
“I wouldn’t want to say it will be free forever,” he said.
Richard Moat, Eir’s chief executive, said it had beaten off stiff competition from other broadcasters for the rugby rights. He said the group will commit further funds to pay for other upcoming sports rights as necessary.
Mickey O’Rourke, the Setanta founder who has stayed on to run Eir Sport for the telco, said it would have to observe free-to-air obligations as part of its acquisition of the rugby rights. This could be achieved by sub-licensing some of the tournament to another broadcaster.
Mr Moat said Eir Sport is also “thinking about” launching its own free-to-air channel.
Eir is also considering ways of developing its content portfolio in other areas, such as music and entertainment, although Mr Florsheim said it wanted to bed down its sports content first.
The company has signed up more than 50,000 customers for its television service.