Eir Has Acquired Setanta Sports: What Can We Expect?
Mark Whelan
Staff Writer

Monday morning greeted us with the news that eir has confirmed its acquisition of Setanta Sports, in a move that eir’s CEO, Richard Moat, has described as a “game changer”. So, what does this latest headline-grabbing change in the Irish telecommunications sphere mean for customers?

Details of the Deal

The cost of eir’s acquisition of Setanta Sports has not been disclosed but is believed to be somewhere in the region of €20m. For context, eir is rumoured to have spent just a little under this (€16m) on its re-brand a few months ago.

It has at least has been confirmed that the Setanta Sports purchase is the company’s largest acquisition since it took over Meteor in 2005.

Pending the approval of the relevant parties, eir will take full ownership of Setanta Sports and all of its channels, as well as the Irish rights to BT Sport.

Setanta’s Story So Far

Having commenced broadcasting in 2004, Setanta Sports now shows live Premier League, Champions League and Europa League matches, as well as European Rugby Champions Cup, NFL, Formula 1 and more. BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and BT Sport ESPN are provided as part of Setanta Sports packages in Ireland and are included in eir’s deal.

And this news should have football-mad eir csutomers excited at the prospect of having easier access to exclusive matches.

It’s good news for the folks behind Setanta Sports too, who came close to folding in 2009 after the UK-based arm of the business failed to compete with Sky Sports for coveted exclusive rights agreements.

Under the eir umbrella, the Setanta Sports team can now look towards a new era of company security and potential growth opportunities in Ireland.

Content is King

What will have appealed to eir most about the idea of owning Setanta Sports is the opportunity provided to enter the content space, with Richard Moat commenting that the acquisition is a “very important first step in television content ownership”.

Competition is at fever pitch in the Irish telecommunication market following the arrival of Richard Branson and Virgin Media here in October and the importance of original content is growing and growing.

Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global, purchased TV3 for €80m in July, giving it access to the station’s production studio, video-on-demand service and existing original TV content, such as ‘Red Rock’.

There is a growing sense that customers will make TV subscription choices based on the availability of certain TV programmes, movies and sports.

What Can Customers Expect?

2015 will be remembered as a year of huge change and increased competition in the Irish telecommunications market. And as a year of attractive packages for customers.

Eircom re-branded as eir in September which heralded a new era for the company. The following month, UPC re-branded as Virgin Media and announced the launch of a new mobile network.

Eir’s acquisition of Setanta Sports is an indicator of the company’s ambition and determination to aggressively compete with Virgin Media and Sky in the changing world of on-demand on-the-go entertainment and network-produced TV shows.

And this should mean more options, improved service and competitive prices for customers.

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