A guide to TV sports packages
If you’re a sports fan, a standard digital TV package may not cut it. Here’s how to choose a sports package that lets you watch all the action for less.
Who offers sports channels?
There are four digital TV providers that offer sports packages in Ireland:
All four let you add sports channels to their digital TV packages, but only Sky and Virgin Media offer standalone TV deals.
If you choose eir or Vodafone you’ll need to sign up to a broadband and TV bundle to get their sports packages because they don’t offer TV only sports packages.
What is the best sports TV package?
The main digital TV sports packages in Ireland are:
- Sky Sports: which includes 7 dedicated Sky Sports channels, so you can enjoy live Premier League 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.
- Sports Extra: which features 6 sports channels, including BT Sport 1,2,3, ESPN and Premier Sport 1 and 2. They broadcast live UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games, Premier League games, Scottish FA Cup, Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Rugby.
- Virgin Media Sport: which has Wednesday night UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches, as well as live Euro 2020 qualifiers and Six Nations rugby.
- eir sport pack: which comes with eir sport 1&2 and their FreeSports Channel along with Virgin Media Sport. They offer live rugby, tennis, Allianz League GAA, golf, F1 and more.
Sky and Virgin Media also offer Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports News for free with their TV packages, while some of their premium TV packages also include Eurosport 1 and 2.
Remember, some free to air channels like RTÉ, Virgin Media One and BBC also offer decent sports coverage.
How to choose a sports TV package
This often comes down to the channels you want, but also consider the TV package as a whole. When you’re comparing TV deals, think about the:
- Channels: that are most important to you.
- Price: both before and after any initial discount.
- Features on offer: like the ability to pause, rewind and record.
- Add-ons you need: like multi-room, or movie channels.
- Extra services you need: for example if you want your TV as part of a bundle with your broadband and/or phone.
What sports can you watch with each package?
Most sports channels offer a variety of live sports, but each have the rights to broadcast different events.
If you’re a fan of specific sport, always check what’s on offer, below is a brief overview:
|Sport||Sky Sports||eir Sport||Sports Extra||Virgin Media Sport|
|Rugby||European Rugby Union, Rugby League||World Cup Rugby||Champions Cup, Challenge Cup||Six Nations|
|Soccer||126 Premier League games, EFL, Carabao Cup, SPFL, La Liga, & Euro 2020 qualifiers||SSE Airtricity league||105 Premier League games||Champions & Europa League and Euro 2020 qualifiers|
|Golf||The Majors, European, PGA Tours & Solheim Cup||The Masters||-||The Masters|
|Motor sports||Every Formula 1® practice, qualifying and race live||F1, NASCAR highlights, World Rallycross||NASCAR, Moto GP||-|
|Others||Tennis, boxing, NFL, GAA and darts||Allianz Leagues GAA, tennis,||Cricket & Boxing||French Open tennis|
So, which provider is best?
This depends on what sports channels you want.
Many providers include their own sports packages with their TV bundles, but will then make you pay extra to add competitor channels. Here’s what each of the four provider offers:
Sky offers new TV customers the option to add Sky Sports for €25 per month for the first six months (then €40).
Existing customers can upgrade to Sky Sports for €25 per month where they can also add Sports Extra at an additional monthly cost.
Virgin offers Virgin Media Sport for free to all their TV customers with the option to add Sky Sports for an extra charge.
eir sport is now available to Virgin Media TV customers. If you’re a Virgin Media broadband customer or Virgin Mobile customer you can also get access to Virgin Media Sport free for the first 2 months, €5 per month thereafter.
eir broadband customers get eir sport free, with Virgin Media Sport also being available to eir broadband customers as part of the eir sport pack. If you add a TV plan you can watch eir sport via the eir TV box.
If you’re an existing eir vision customer interested in accessing further sports action, you can also add on the BT Sport/Premier Sports add-on for an additional monthly charge.
Virgin Media Sport is available to eir broadband customers as part of the eir sport pack where eir broadband and TV customers can also add Sky Sports for an extra €40 per month.
Vodafone broadband and TV customers can add Sky Sports, BT/Premier Sport Pack, or both to their package for an additional charge.
Sky Sports is currently €20 per month for the first six months, and then goes up to €40 a month.
You can also sign up to the Virgin Media TV app for €20 per month to gain access to Virgin Media Sport.
If you want all of the available sports channels, the cheapest option is Virgin Media.
What about pay per view events?
Occasionally major sporting events come up that are not included in standard sports packages, common pay per view events include:
- Boxing title fights
- MMA events
- WWE wrestling main 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.
You don’t usually have to be a sports customer to order pay-per-view events, but you will need to have an active TV subscription.
Can you stream any sports for free?
Streaming content that you would normally have to pay for, including live sport is usually illegal and best avoided.