Virgin Media pulls the plug on sports coverage for Eir customers

Virgin Media pulled plug at 6pm ahead of a Champions League football quarter final

Eir subscribing football fans missed out on the live airing of the Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid Champions League quarter final. Photograph: Antonio Cotrim/ EPA

Eir subscribing football fans missed out on the live airing of the Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid Champions League quarter final. Photograph: Antonio Cotrim/ EPA

 

Thousands of Eir customers were left without Virgin Media Sports content on Thursday evening after the service was pulled over a contractual dispute.

Virgin Media, which provides its sports channels to Eir for what is believed to be a multimillion euro annual fee, pulled the plug at 6pm ahead of a Champions League football quarter final.

In a statement it said it had suspended provision of both Virgin Media Sport and Virgin Media Sport Extra to Eir Sport “because Eir has failed to pay the contracted distribution licence fee”.

While it is unclear how many people view the content via the Eir service, it had been available to all Eir broadband customers.

In a counter statement issued shortly afterwards, Eir accused Virgin Media of refusing to agree to renewed terms in their contract given the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on sports fixtures.

“In common with other live entertainment businesses operating through this pandemic, Eir Sports can only pay for the sports events that actually take place,” it said.

“We have consistently offered fair terms to each of our live sports content providers to reflect the reduced timetable, however, Virgin Media has not agreed to updated terms and has taken the unreasonable step of unilaterally withholding their feed from Virgin Media Sports viewers on the Eir network.”

Many Eir subscribing football fans are likely to have been put out given the live airing of the Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid Champions League quarter final on Thursday night.

It is understood the issue over the reported non-payment of contractual fees had been simmering in recent weeks before the decision to suspend supply.