Virgin Media customers to lose eir Sport and BT Sports at the end of July

Last night, Virgin Media announced that from 31 July it would no longer be carrying the eir Sports pack, and will instead offer Sky Sports 1-5 and Sky Sports News HQ.

Eoin Clarke
by Eoin Clarke on 27th July, 2016

We’ve seen lots of action in the TV market over the past few weeks, with eir announcing eir Sport, Sky launching Sky Cinema and Ultra HD, and Virgin Media acquiring UTV Ireland.

The latest development came last night, when Virgin Media announced that from 31 July it would no longer be carrying the eir Sports pack. Customers will have the option of signing up to Sky Sports 1-5 and Sky Sports News HQ from 24 August. In addition to the sports channels, Virgin has also secured a long-term agreement to carry Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts, Sky News and Sky Cinema.

In its statement to customers, Virgin said that the ‘economics’ of offering the eir Sports pack to customers was unsustainable and eir’s pricing was excessive and not realistic ‘relative to their content offering which has essentially been halved’.

As it stands, Virgin Media offers the eir Sports pack for €22 per month. It also carries Setanta Sports 1 (now eir Sports 1) as standard for over 300,000 customers - this is now being replaced by the new Sky Sports Mix channel.

There has been a bit of a social media storm over the news, with customers arguing that the change to terms means they should be able to switch provider without the normal penalties - but Virgin Media has said that this is not the case. They are allowing customers to cancel their sports add-on with no penalties, however.

eir has said that if Virgin Media does want to carry the channels, eir Sport is ‘open to further talks’ to make sure Virgin’s customers don’t miss out.

In the meantime, eir is continuing to offer the eir Sports pack free to all its broadband customers, which is obviously a huge advantage as these channels are carrying what is normally considered premium content.

There’s no doubt that the Sky Sports channels Virgin Media will be offering from 24 August will appeal to sports fans, with 159 live FA Premier League games among the content available. But if no agreement is reached on carrying eir Sports, and Virgin Media customers still want to access this channel or pack, what can they do?

Well, new and existing eir broadband customers can access the eir Sport pack for free through the eir Sport app, and eir broadband and TV customers can do the same through their eir Vision box. People who have eir broadband and Sky TV can also access the channels through their Sky TV box.

However, before deciding to make the move to a new provider, it’s important to remember that anyone who is in contract with Virgin Media at the moment will likely have to pay an early exit fee if they decide to break their contract, so it’s definitely worth checking this out.

If you’re not in contract and you decide to change broadband or TV provider, you should consider things like: the broadband speed you require; the channels you want; what you’re willing to pay; maximum broadband speeds; and data allowance. It’s also worth thinking about whether a bundle might offer better value.

It’s an exciting time in TV land, and the battle for customers is likely to continue on through the summer, so make the most of it by making sure you get the deal you want when you’re shopping around.

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