Setanta Sport has rebranded as Eir Sport and has taken the opportunity to confirm it has won the exclusive TV rights to the Rugby World Cup in Japan. The deal also includes the rights to next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup which Ireland will host. The announcement was made at Eir’s Dublin HQ with former Ireland and Lions rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll in attendance. O’Driscoll is a rugby pundit on BT Sports, which has a six-channel agreement with Eir.
In a bid to attract consumers to its fibre broadband service, the two Eir and four BT Sports channels are free to Eir broadband customers and subscribers to its Vision TV service. Viewers on other platforms like Virgin media can access the Eir Sport pack by paying a monthly subscription. Eir’s consumer boss Jon Florsheim said the reason they are offering the sports pack free to its subscribers was to create some ‘stickiness’ on its online platform.
Setanta founder Mickey O’Rourke said as part of its winning bid for the rugby rights, the company will have to comply with free-to-air obligations. But as with the knock-on deal RTE agreed with TV3 for sharing the rights to the Uefa Euro football tournament in France, Eir might sub-license some of the games to a rival broadcaster. Eir’s chief executive Richard Moat said the company may yet launch its own a free-to-air channel.