Business Irish

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Eir launches new multi-device TV package to hit back against UPC, Sky

CEO Richard Moat is fighting hard to gain traction for its challenger TV product

Published 27/09/2015 | 02:30

Eir CEO Richard Moat
Eir CEO Richard Moat

Newly rebranded Eir is building a television product that will broadcast across all devices, including smartphones and tablets.

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By rolling out 'TV Everywhere', the company wants to compete with Sky and UPC, whose television packages give consumers the option of viewing shows on their mobile devices, as well as their TVs.

The move is part of a revamp of the telecommunications company's television service, which has fared poorly in recent years in the face of fierce competition, both from traditional rivals and online streaming-only services, such as Netflix.

The television subscription market is led in Ireland by Sky, which had around 700,000 subscribers last year.

Its Sky Go service allows subscribers to view Sky content from any device connected to the internet.

UPC, which is soon to be Virgin Media following its purchase by John Malone's Liberty Global, had about 386,500 at the end of last year. On-the-go subscribers can watch UPC content on mobile devices, using its Horizon Go app.

Netflix, meanwhile, is estimated to have about 200,000 Irish subscribers.

Its Irish customer numbers have been boosted in recent months by heavy marketing of original shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.

The company formerly known as Eir only launched its TV brand Evision - now Eirvision - in October 2013. It had 30,000 subscribers as of May.

Former chief executive Herb Hribar called it a "game-changer" but the subscription service has been slow to gain traction.

This is despite the fact that Eir is the only company in Ireland to offer what it calls "quadplay".

Quadplay is a package or bundles that includes broadband, a television subscription, a fixed home phone line and mobile connectivity for one price, under one roof.

However, UPC, soon to be Virgin Media, is expected to launch a quadplay product soon, once it opens its long-awaited new mobile operator business.

The broadband and cable TV giant has already signed a deal with 3 Ireland to use its network for the mobile operator, after the European Commission said that 3 Ireland would have to facilitate two new mobile operators here if it wanted permission to purchase O2 Ireland in the €780m deal that went through earlier this year.

Eir, meanwhile, is refining its quadplay offering, as well as introducing a multi-screen function.

"Customers now want unlimited broadband, so all our new packages have those," chief executive Richard Moat said.

An enhanced parental-control function is also being built into new packages.

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