Former Setanta owner secures Irish rights to 53 Premier League matches
Mickey O’Rourke’s Premier Sports expected to hold talks with Sky, Virgin and other platforms
Mickey O’Rourke’s Premier Sports will have the rights to show 33 live Saturday afternoon games. Photograph: PA Wire
Dublin businessman Mickey O’Rourke has secured the Irish rights to broadcast 53 live English Premier League matches per season for a three-year period, beginning in August 2019.
Mr O’Rourke, who was a co-founder of the Irish pay-TV channel Setanta Sports, has secured the rights through Premier Sports, a company he owns that broadcasts in the United Kingdom.
The deal includes the rights to show 33 live Saturday afternoon games in the Republic. These matches are not broadcast in the UK, and are currently shown here by British satellite operator Sky.
In addition, he will hold the Irish rights for a separate pack of 20 matches that the Premier League offered to the market.
This comprises all 20 matches from one bank holiday, and one mid-week fixture programme. The equivalent rights in the UK have been secured by Amazon Prime Video.
It is not clear how much Premier has paid for its Irish rights. The company would be expected to hold talks with Sky, Virgin Media, Eir and other platforms about offering these games to customers here.
Based in Dublin, Premier Sports launched in the UK in August 2010. It is available via subscription to 16 million homes through the Sky and Virgin platforms at £9.99 (€11.36) a month. It is also available in high definition through its online Premier player service.
In April, it signed a deal to show live Pro14 Rugby in the UK for three years. Its portfolio also includes rugby league, GAA, continental European football, ice hockey, MMA and motorsports.
Mr O’Rourke sold Setanta Sports to Eir in 2016 and it has since been rebranded as Eir Sport. Mr O’Rourke cut his ties with the business in April after the expiry of an earn-out period.
In February, the Premier League announced that it had sold five of its seven live packages of rights for Britain and Ireland to Sky and BT for a combined £4.46 billion (€5.07 billion). The rights cover three years from the beginning of the 2019/20 season.
Sky Sports said yesterday that it has been awarded the rights to show 128 Premier League games a season live in the Republic from 2019.
Under the agreement, which mirrors the broadcaster’s rights in the UK, it will get first pick of weekend matches. It will also get access to Saturday evening fixtures for the first time but it has lost the matches in the 3pm slot on Saturday that it had previously held to Premier.
The announcement marks a further diversification for consumers who may now have to sign up to a third subscription channel if they are looking for comprehensive coverage.
Commenting on the latest Irish rights sale, Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: “There is huge appetite for the Premier League in Ireland and we are very pleased to have concluded this process which ensures more matches than ever before will be available live from 2019/20 onwards.
“We know that Sky Sports and BT Sport will continue to provide fantastic live-match broadcasts and programming for fans across the country, and we welcome Premier Sports as a new partner. We know they will make available high-quality coverage that will appeal to local fans.”