The channels were previously available to all Eir customers under an agreement between both companies.
If you’re an Eir customer and were planning on watching the Champions League on Virgin Media Sport recently you might have gotten a shock when you sat down to watch one of the quarter finals on Thursday.
In an unexpected move Virgin Media announced it was suspending access to its sports channels for Eir customers.
In a statement released by Virgin Media Sport on Twitter, it outlined the decisions behind the suspension, saying that Eir “failed to pay the contracted distribution licence fee”, meanwhile referring impacted customers to Eir’s technical support line or its support page on the social media platform.
While it might have come as a surprise to Eir and Virgin Media customers alike, it seems the issue has been brewing for quite some time behind closed doors.
While the Eir customers affected will be left wondering when the issue will be resolved, many others will be wondering where to keep up to date with the latest football coverage in the mean time.
We have all the answers for you below.
Last August Virgin Media and Eir joined forces and agreed a deal which allowed each TV service provider to share access to one another’s sports channels.
The deal meant that Eir broadband and TV customers would have access to both Virgin Media Sport and Virgin Media Sport Extra at no extra cost, as well as Virgin Media customers having free access to Eir Sport.
The agreement meant that Eir and Virgin customers shared exclusive access to both Champions League and Europa League coverage via Virgin Media Sport, as well as plenty of live rugby action from Eir Sport, including all 48 games from the rugby world cup last September.
However, Virgin Media announced on Thursday night it would be suspending access to both its sports channels for Eir customers, and just before kick-off to a highly anticipated Champions League quarter final.
In a statement released on Twitter on the evening of Thursday 20th, Virgin Media said the decision to do so was taken because of a dispute regarding “unpaid licensing fees” from Eir.
For a while Virgin Media customers still had access to the Eir Sport pack via its television service, but in a tit-for-tat Eir has now pulled its sports channels from Virgin Media too.
The issue regarding unpaid contractual fees is believed to have been ongoing between both companies, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic which saw multiple sporting events being called off and/or postponed indefinitely.
In a statement released to the media, Eir responded by saying:
“In common with other live entertainment businesses operating through this pandemic, Eir Sports can only pay for the sports events that actually take place.
"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.”
Remedy for customers
The decision to suspend the sports channels is sure to have frustrated many Eir customers who were unable to watch the aforementioned Champions League quarter final between RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid on Thursday evening.
Furthermore, Eir customers will be unable to follow the Champions League to its conclusion this season via their Eir Sport pack as Virgin Media holds the rights.
So what does that mean for those footy fanatics?
If Eir customers would like to watch the rest of the Champions League or Europa League games in full, a subscription to BT Sport is the only way to go - unless you're out of contract and switch your entire TV service to Virgin Media of course.
Eir Sport customers previously had access to both the BT Sport and Premier Sports channels, however, Sky nabbed both from Eir in a deal announced in the summer of last year. That's where NOW TV comes into play...
NOW TV is a contract-free service from Sky where you can get access to exclusive TV shows as well as live TV channels by paying for a daily, monthly, or weekly pass - find out how it works here.
So, if Eir customers don’t want to miss out on any footy action it’s possible to purchase a daily or monthly pass for Sky Sports Extra (with BT Sport) for either €10 or €34 respectively, which is a relatively inexpensive short-term remedy.
While this may be less than ideal for those who would have otherwise received the channels free of charge, it’s certainly an effective, albeit temporary solution in order to see out the remaining fixtures.
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Get in touch
Have you been affected by Virgin Media’s decision to pull its sports channels? Where are you going to watch live coverage of the Champions League in the meantime? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch and let us know!