Virgin and TV3 Take Lions Share of Europe Soccer

Virgin Media have taken the lions share of European Soccer for the next three years. RTÉ move their rights to Tuesday Night, while eirSports have lost all their rights to both the Champions League and the Europa League. It is not yet known how the extra games awarded to Virgin Media and TV3 will be shown. Currently the second choice matches air on pay operator eir, with first choice airing on RTÉ and TV3. BT Sport retain their non-exclusive rights to the games in Ireland.

Virgin Media will gain additional Champions League and Europa League games under the new arrangement. RTÉ will lose access to the finals under their new contract, while eir have lost any rights they currently hold.

RTÉ hold on to their broadcast rights to both the European and World Cup Qualifiers for the Republic of Ireland, under the new agreement.

First choice Champions Leagues games swap channels. TV3 will now have first choice of matches on Wednesday Night, while RTÉ will takeover Tuesday Nights coverage.

It is not clear how TV3 owners Virgin Media will broadcast the other games, which had previously been available on pay platforms. It could mean the return of Europa League to free-to-air TV on TV3's 3e. TV3, and its sister channels 3e and be3, are expected to come under the Virgin Media brand in the coming months.

Ryle Nugent, RTÉ Group Head of Sport said: "This is a truly positive result for RTÉ, the Irish audience and public service broadcasting. The sports rights market continues to evolve and RTÉ is now competing against major international companies both here and in the UK, both free and subscription, for the right to broadcast premium sports events in this country. To secure the UEFA Champions League first choice games on Tuesday nights for the next three seasons means that Irish audiences will continue to have free to air access to the world’s leading club competition. This success, in conjunction with the rights to broadcast our national team’s UEFA European and World Cup qualifiers for 2020 & 2022, guarantees top class football on RTÉ platforms for the seasons ahead."

Speaking about this major content deal for the Virgin Media Group, Pat Kiely, Managing Director of TV3 said "The UEFA Champions League is the biggest and most prestigious club competition in the world and we are delighted to extend our partnership with UEFA for both the Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. This landmark deal confirms Virgin Media as Ireland's leading connected entertainment business and is great news for TV3 viewers and Virgin Media Customers. Our award winning Sports Broadcasting team look forward to bringing the biggest clubs and the best players to our viewers and customers in new and exciting ways over the coming European football seasons."