Wednesday 28 September 2016

Revealed: The cost of tv sport in our pubs

Irish pubs hit with high costs as the Premier League kicks off

Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30

Irish pubs are facing bills of up to €26,028 a year to air all of this year's sport, including the English Premier League.

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The licence fees that pubs must pay are based around their revenue intake.

A small pub taking in around €190,000 a year faces a bill of around €13,000.

The fees are split up into six bands.

Publicans are now paying more than one provider to get all of the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League games in soccer.

"It used to be that Sky had all the soccer," said Paris Texas pub owner Pat Crotty in Co Kilkenny, who added that under recent deals Premier League coverage is shared between Sky and BT Sport.

He added that now, with two companies broadcasting soccer, prices are higher for some pubs.

During the summer a new deal over TV rights was brokered that has seen Eir carrying the BT Sport channels, which have become Sky's main rivals over the last number of years.

However, a number of promotional deals from Eir has seen their sport offering served up for free to home customers.

The telecoms firm is offering broadband and phone bundles that come with its six sports channels as a free extra.

While the deals may be of benefit to consumers, pub owner Pat Crotty feared it could have an impact on publicans.

"If I have customers who came to me for an Eir channel, they don't actually have to come to me in the next season because they're getting it at home for free," he said.

Mr Crotty said neither Champions League nor FA Cup games are drawing crowds to pubs like they used to. The availability of UK soccer has expanded greatly in recent years with the rise of the internet and more wide-ranging television packages.

Vintners Federation of Ireland chief executive Patrick Cribben said consumers should be aware of the costs facing pubs regarding live sport.

"It is important that customers understand some of the very serious hidden costs that are behind product they are consuming.

"In some instances, the cost of carrying these extra channels can amount to up to 10pc of the actual turnover of the pub," Mr Cribben said.

Television rights to broadcast Premier League matches is big business.

In February broadcasting rights were sold for a record £5.13bn (€593bn).

This was a 71pc increase on the rights sold for the previous year.

At the time Sky paid £4.2bn for its share of the rights while BT paid £960m.

Pat Crotty said it is difficult to evaluate what hit soccer's rise in the home has had on business. "Key games are key drivers and everything else is wallpaper," he said. "It's very hard to measure what we've lost over the years because of all the other factors like Brexit.

"However, I would still say tea time on a Saturday is a great time for any sport.

"Saturday is the best day, you have your games on Sunday but people tend to drink more sparingly and finish much earlier on a Sunday," he said.

Irish Independent

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