A guide to TV sports packages
Sports fan? If so, the chances are your standard TV package might not cut it and you’ll want to add on at least some dedicated sports channels. We’ve got info on what's available.
Who provides sports channels?
There are four TV providers in Ireland - eir, Sky, Virgin Media, and Vodafone. Only Sky and Virgin Media offer standalone TV deals - with eir and Vodafone you’ll need to sign up to a broadband package in order to avail of their TV plans.
All of these providers either include - or will give you the option of to add - some sports channels, be it eir Sport, Sky Sports, or Virgin Media Sport.
It’s also worth noting that Sky and Virgin Media both offer Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports News as standard with their TV packages, while some of the premium TV packages from providers will also include Eurosport 1 and 2. Remember too, that some standard channels - like RTÉ, TV3 and BBC - will offer decent sports coverage.
What is the best sports TV package? What channels do I get?
The main sports packages/channels you need to consider are eir Sport, Sky Sports and Virgin Media Sport.
- eir Sport comes with eir sport 1&2, Box Nation, BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN. Catch top Premier League, Champions League, and Europa League action, as well as Champions Cup Rugby, UFC, Allianz League GAA, Golf, F1 and much more.
- Sky Sports includes 7 dedicated Sky Sports channels, so you can enjoy Premier League action, football, cricket, golf GAA, Rugby and more. If you sign up to Sky Sports with a Sky TV package, you’ll also get the exclusive Sky Sports F1 channel for all your F1® coverage.
- Virgin Media Sport - launching August 2018 - has all Wednesday night UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches, as well as Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Which sports TV provider is best?
The TV provider you opt for will depend on what sports channels you want. Here’s what each one offers:
- eir broadband customers get eir Sport absolutely FREE with their broadband plan, and if you choose to add on a TV plan from eir, you can view the eir Sport channels through you eir Vision TV box. eir broadband and TV customers can also add-on Sky Sports to their plan for an additional cost - at the moment it’s €20 per month for the first six months, and €40 thereafter. You can also sign up to the Virgin Media TV app for €20 per month to gain access to Virgin Media Sport.
- New and existing Sky TV customers can choose to add-on Sky Sports to their TV package at a cost of €20 per month for the first six months, going up to €40 thereafter. It is also technically possible to add eir Sport on to your Sky TV plan, but you’ll need to call eir to do this. However, remember that if you’re an eir broadband customer and Sky TV customer, you can access eir Sport on your TV box at no extra charge. You can also sign up to the Virgin Media TV app for €20 per month to gain access to Virgin Media Sport.
- New and existing Virgin Media TV customers will get Virgin Media Sport absolutely free and can also add Sky Sports to their TV package for €32 per month for the first 12 months, going up to €40 thereafter. It’s not possible to access eir Sport through Virgin Media TV, but if you are an eir broadband customer you will still be able to access eir Sport through the dedicated app.
- Vodafone broadband and TV customers can add-on Sky Sports, eir Sport, or both to their package for an additional charge. When you sign up to eir Sport with Vodafone, you’ll get all of the usual channels but won’t get Box Nation. Sky Sports is currently €20 per month for the first six months, going up to €40 thereafter, while eir Sport is €25 per month. However, at the moment you can get either the eir Sport pack or wireless multiroom FREE for the first six months with certain plans. You can also sign up to the Virgin Media TV app for €20 per month to gain access to Virgin Media Sport.
When you take everything into consideration, if you want a plan with all of the available sports channels, the cheapest option will be to opt for either eir or Virgin Media.
eir Sport comes free with all of eir’s broadband packages. However, bear in mind you will have to bundle in order to do this - as you can only get eir TV with an eir broadband plan.
Meanwhile, Virgin Media Sport comes free with all Virgin Media TV packages, and if you’re a Virgin Media broadband customer or Virgin Mobile customer you can get access to Virgin Media Sport for a reduced price of €10 per month.
Sports TV deals - Sky Sports v eir Sport v Virgin Media Sport
|Provider||Package||Number of channels||Monthly cost|
|eir||eir Sport||7||FREE with eir broadband|
|eir||Sky Sports||7||€20 for 6 months, €40 after|
|Sky||eir Sport||6||€13.75 for 2 months, €27.50 after|
|Sky||Sky Sports||8||€20 for 6 months, €40 after|
|Virgin Media||Virgin Media Sport||1||FREE for Virgin Media TV customers|
|Virgin Media||Sky Sports||7||€32 per month for 12 months, €40 thereafter|
|Vodafone||Sky Sports||7||€20 for 6 months, €40 after|
|Vodafone||eir Sport||6||€25, but FREE with some plans for 6 months|
|Any but Virgin Media||Virgin Media Sport||1||€20 per month|
How do I compare TV sports packages?
The comparison between sports packages really comes down to the channels you want. However, you’re probably going to want to compare the TV packages overall, rather than just the sports element. When you’re comparing TV deals, think about:
- The channels that are most important to you.
- Price, both before and after any initial discount.
- Services, like the ability to pause, rewind and record.
- Add-ons you need, like multiroom, or movie channels.
- Whether you want to bundle with broadband and/or phone.
What sports can I watch with each package? Are certain packages better for particular sports?
|Sport||Sky Sports||eir Sport|
|Rugby||European Rugby Union, Rugby League||Champions Cup Rugby|
|Soccer||126 Premier League games, EFL, Carabao Cup, SPFL, La Liga, & Euro 2020 qualifiers||Top Premier League, Champions League & Europa League games|
|Golf||The Majors, European, PGA Tours & Solheim Cup||Highlights from the top tournaments|
|Motor sports||Every Formula 1® practice, qualifying and race live||F1, Moto GP, GP2, IndyCar series, 38 live NASCAR races, Renault World Series|
|Others||Tennis, boxing, NFL, GAA and darts||Allianz League GAA, tennis, boxing, UFC, MLB|
Virgin Media Sport - launching August 2018 - has all Wednesday night UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches, as well as Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Can I stream sports for free?
Streaming sports via online players like the RTÉ Player and TV3 Player is free and completely legal. However, while streaming on ‘Android boxes’ and other websites can be free, anywhere that freely allows you to stream content that you would normally have to pay for - including sports - is generally not legal.
What about pay per view?
Occasionally events will come up that are not included in sports packages - these are generally boxing or MMA events. If you wish to view these pay-per-view events through your TV box, you will normally need to contact your TV provider to do so and will have to pay a once-off fee. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to be a sports customer in order to view pay-per-view events, once you have an overall TV subscription.