Sky Sports confirm customers can pause subscriptions until live sport returns

Broadcaster also confirmed that businesses would not be charged during this time

Sky Sports customers will be able to pause their subscriptions during the current coronavirus-enforced live sports blackout, while pubs and other businesses will not be charged for their subscriptions “until a live sport schedule returns,” Sky Ireland have confirmed.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension of the Premier League and English Football League until at least April 3rd, while postponements of the next three PGA Tour events and the US Masters, along with similar suspensions in cricket and Formula One, mean that the broadcaster has no live sport to show.

The nine channels are currently being filled by re-runs and the 24-hour Sky Sports News service, and that has led the company to announce a suspension in charges for businesses, a move which will be welcomed in the Irish pub trade which faces unprecedented challenges with no revenue coming in until after March 29th at the earliest.

Virgin Media confirmed to The Irish Times that businesses who receive their Sky Sports package through Virgin will also not pay until live sports returns. They also said that they are speaking to Sky about what can be done for regular household customers who receive Sky Sports through Virgin Media.

Depending on a Sky customer’s contract, most do have the option to remove the Sky Sports package and then re-apply it whenever they wish. However, on Tuesday a lot of customers were complaining on social media that, when they tried to remove the package online via the ‘manage my package’ section they received a message saying they needed to ring Sky to do so, which then resulted in long delays on hold due to the volume of calls the broadcaster was receiving.

Sky Ireland say that, for the moment, customers need to ring the broadcaster to pause their service as the option is not available online, but they hope to change that in the coming days.

On Tuesday questions had been raised on social media by some publicans wondering how they would continue to pay their expensive business subscriptions when pubs around the country are now closed for at least 12 more days, following government instruction to do so in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tweeted that he would follow up on the issue with Sky and shortly after the company themselves tweeted to confirm that business subscribers would not be charged at this time.

Sky’s subscription rates for pubs work on the basis of the business’s turnover. There are six different rates and pubs will be charged depending on how much money they make each year. The top rate, for pubs which turnover more than €1.27 million per year, is €2,002 per month for Sky’s Ultimate Package which includes BT Sport and Premier Sport. For Eir Sport it’s another €500 per month, meaning that over a year a large pub will be forking out more than €30,000 to show all available live sport.

On the other end of the scale, a small pub which turns over less than €190,500 every year pays €932 per month or €11,184 per year for the Sky Ultimate package.

Sky said in a statement on Tuesday that there is no need for businesses to take any action and that they will receive a letter soon confirming the change on their account.

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