Irish customers miss out on Sky-BT channel share deal

By Pádraig Hoare and Paul Sandle

Irish customers are to miss out on a controversial deal that will see UK viewers benefit from Sky and BT sharing content including Premier League and Champions League matches on each other’s platforms.

Shares in both firms rose more than 1% as the two confirmed the deal that will see each supply their most popular channels to each other’s platform.

The deal eases the rivalry between two pay-TV giants facing new threats from the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

However, Irish subscribers of Sky will not have access to BT’s exclusive Champions League matches and Premier League matches, unlike their British viewing counterparts.

Spokeswomen for Sky and BT confirmed that the deal did not apply to Ireland, but did not elaborate why.

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the agreement would benefit its UK customers who would be able to watch all soccer matches from the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Europa League with a single Sky TV subscription.

“UK consumers will have more ways to watch great Sky entertainment content with our leading portfolio of channels — Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Sky Living — available on all major pay-TV platforms for the first time,” he said.

The two companies said BT customers would be able to sign up for Sky’s Now TV service which includes the biggest package of English Premier League matches and shows like Game of Thrones.

In return, BT will make its sports channels, which show Champions League soccer, 42 Premier League games a season and the current Ashes cricket series, available to Sky satellite customers.

The companies said the reciprocal deal was expected to be available from early 2019. The two companies paid a combined £5.14bn (€5.8bn) for the last three-year Premier League rights deal, a 70% jump on the previous round.

The deal comes before the next set of rights, for 2019-2022, is up for grabs early next year, and the Premier League has said it wants companies like Amazon and Facebook to bid, saying the live packages will be available on a “technology neutral basis”.

BT, which launched its rival Sport TV product on the back of winning some Premier League rights for the 2013-14 season, said its customers would be able to watch Sky’s sport and entertainment programming on BT TV boxes. The only Sky channel that BT viewers can get after paying extra is pay-per-view channel Sky Sports Main Event, the main sports channel.

Additional reporting: Reuters

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