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Virgin Ireland drops eir Sports over ‘excessive pricing’

BT_Sport-01Virgin Media Ireland is due to drop the eir Sports package – which includes the BT Sports channels – from its line-up after failing to agree a new deal for the content.

The Liberty Global-owned operator said that the sports networks will no longer be available on its cable platform from July 31, after accusing rival operator eir of charging “excessive” prices for the six-channel bundle.

A spokesperson for the Virgin Media Ireland told TBI sister title DTVE that the move would not affect Virgin Media’s deal with BT Sport (pictured) in the UK.

“At Virgin the customer is at the heart of all our content decisions and the significant reduction in content by over 40% within the eir Sports pack made the economics of offering the pack to our customers unsustainable,” said Virgin Media Ireland’s head of TV content, Bill Blake.

“We have made every effort to agree commercial terms with eir Sport that reflect the reduced value within their sports pack however their pricing was excessive and simply wasn’t realistic relative to their content offering which has essentially been halved.”

Blake added that Virgin is “working closely with key content programmers such as Sky to establish and secure more compelling content for Virgin Media Ireland customers”.

The news came as Virgin Media Ireland announced a long-term carriage renewal with Sky. The deal means Virgin will continue to offer Sky’s five main sports channels, Sky Sports News HQ and other channels including Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts, Sky New and the newly rebranded Sky Cinema.

The eir Sport Pack includes the channels eir Sport 1, eir Sport 2, BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and BT Sport ESPN. Eir Sport was established as a brand earlier this month, following Irish telco eir’s buyout of sports broadcaster Setanta Sports last December.