Monday 21 October 2019

New EU law lets you watch Sky Sports and other pay-TV channels abroad at no extra cost

Sky TV (PA)
Sky TV (PA)
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Sky subscribers and other pay-TV customers can now access their sport and movies anywhere in Europe when they travel, thanks to a new EU law.

The “portability regulation” means that broadcasters and movie-streaming providers such as Sky, Netflix, Amazon and others now have to give you access to their services as if you were at home when you’re in another European country.

For example, someone who pays for Sky Sports at home, and who watches it on the Sky app, is now allowed to watch the same matches live through their Sky app when they’re in another EU country. Neither Sky nor organisations such as the Premier League can claim that geographic copyright restrictions apply. They must automatically provide streaming access to this content and are not allowed to charge more for it.

However, the new rules do not apply to free-to-air televisions services such as RTE or the BBC. Only pay-TV services are affected.

Also, the new law stops short of giving an Irish traveller a right to access to other movies, television shows or sports content that might additionally be available in the country they’re visiting, over and above what they see in their own home country’s content catalogue.

For example, if an Irish Netflix user travels to Spain, he or she will get full access to all movies and television programmes available in the ‘Irish’ Netflix catalogue, but does not automatically have the right to access extra movies or shows that are particular to Spanish Netflix subscribers.

The law also only applies to travellers, meaning that organisations such as Sky, Netflix, Amazon and various film studios are still allowed to allocate different movie catalogues based on the EU country you live in.

As it’s an EU law, it also does not apply when someone travels outside the EU, to countries such as the US or Canada. In that case, someone logging into Netflix will see whatever is available to US Netflix subscribers, but not a movie that is available to Netflix Ireland subscribers.

The new law is part of the EU’s digital single market strategy.

While the regulation was passed last June, it came into effect on April 1st of this year.

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