Sunday 23 September 2018

TV3 dominate rights to Champions League football for next three years as RTÉ move to Tuesday evenings

A general view of Anfield before the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final First Leg match between Liverpool and AS Roma.
A general view of Anfield before the UEFA Champions League, Semi Final First Leg match between Liverpool and AS Roma.

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

RTÉ have retained rights to one night of Champions League football for the next three years as the Virgin Media group will dominate the Irish coverage.

Ireland’s flagship broadcasting company will see their current rights to Wednesday night Champions League football discontinued and in its place a contract for Tuesday night football signed.

Virgin Media and TV3, the combined broadcasting and television platform, will become a dominant force in Irish coverage of European football. The new deal sees them obtain exclusive Irish rights to all Wednesday Champions League matches as well as all Thursday Europa League matches and the finals of both competitions.

The deal will also allow the Virgin Media Group to share 16 of the Tuesday night matches with RTÉ and own the exclusive rights to 327 matches across Europe's premier and secondary club competitions.

Speaking about the rights that the Virgin Media Group obtained, Pat Kiely, Managing Director of TV3 said that the new contracts put the platform at the forefront of Irish sports broadcasting.

"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,” he said.

“This landmark deal confirms Virgin Media as Ireland's leading connected entertainment business and is great news for TV3 viewers and Virgin Media Customers.”

While the new contract, which come into fruition in August this year, also includes exclusive rights to all Champions League final round qualifiers, the Super Cup and all highlights for the Virgin Media group, RTÉ are taking the retention of one night of European football as a victory for the organisation.

Ryle Nugent, RTÉ Group Head of Sport said that as a free-to-air organisation, the broadcaster is punching above its weight.

"This is a truly positive result for RTÉ, the Irish audience and public service broadcasting,” he said.

"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.”

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