Setanta to launch HD channel and online player

Investment includes rights deal with Uefa to cover Champions League

Setanta Sports is planning to launch a high-definition channel and a player service that will allow for online playback of its channels as part of a €4 million investment in the business this year.

In an exclusive interview with The Irish Times, Setanta's owner Mickey O'Rourke, said the investment also includes its recent rights deal with Uefa to cover every game in the Champions League and Europa League competitions over the next three seasons.

“From August, we’ll have four or five HD channels available in our pack [three relate to BT and ESPN] which will give a hugely improved service for our customers,” Mr O’Rourke said. “Hopefully this will reduce customer churn.”

Mr O’Rourke said revenues at Setanta’s Irish business amount to about €30 million annually.


Revenues grew by more than 20 per cent last year and he expects the business will achieve double-digit growth again this year, as it upgrades its offering and the economy continues to improve.

Heavy investment

“We made a small profit [in 2014] and we’ll do the same in 2015, despite the fact that we’re going to invest very heavily this year in three new things,” Mr O’Rourke added.

Mr O'Rourke is also an investor in Danu Capital Partners, a vehicle that recently agreed a €15 million deal to acquire four pubs that were part of the Capital Bars chain – Dragon, the George, Cafe en Seine and Howl at the Moon.

Mr O’Rourke said €750,000 was spent on refurbishing Dragon, which opened earlier this month under a new name, Söder+Ko. The George and Howl are also in line for refurbishment.

“When we take hold of Cafe en Seine, assuming we do because we’re arguing with the landlord about taking ownership, the idea is to upgrade that as well,” he said. “We’re going to try and keep the strengths but give it a new lease of life.”

Mr O’Rourke said the dispute should be resolved within three months.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times