Setanta Sports

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Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited
Limited company
Industry Sports broadcasting
Founded Dublin, Ireland (1990 (1990))
Headquarters Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Area served
Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland
Central Asia
Baltic States
Parent Eir

Setanta Sports (/sɛˈtɑːntə/) is the parent company of the international sports broadcasting brand Setanta Sports based in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The company is a subsidiary of Irish telecommunications company Eir. The company operates channels across Ireland, Central Europe, Russia and Central Asia. With previous operations in the UK, Asia, Australia, US & Canada.

Setanta Sports was formed in 1990 to facilitate the broadcasting of Irish sporting events to international audiences.


In July 2009, the ownership structure of Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited (previously Setanta Sports Ireland Ltd) changed. Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited is co-owned by Gaiety Investments (60% share) with the remaining 40% share made up by Danu Partners Limited. The main shareholders in Danu are Michael O'Rourke, Leonard Ryan, and Mark O'Meara. Danu purchased 100% of the shares in Setanta Sports North America Limited which was disposed of in early 2010. Setanta Sports Channel Ireland Limited is licensed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The Setanta business in Ireland has managed to survive despite the difficulties with Setanta GB. Colin Morgan, formerly CEO of Quinn Direct Insurance, joined the Setanta Ireland business in October 2010.

In 2015 it was announced that Eir were in the process of buying Setanta's remaining Irish Operations Setanta Ireland and Setanta Sports 1, the deal also includes the sale of the Setanta Sports Pack which includes BT Sport.[1]


Setanta Sports offers commercial venues in several countries around the world programming of sports such as football (soccer- except the premiership the most popular league), Gaelic football, hurling, golf, cricket, Australian rules football, boxing, NHL ice hockey and rugby union (except the world cup and six nations the largest rugby tournaments) and league.


Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland



Previous operations


As of August 2014 both Setanta Sports Australia and Setanta Sports Plus were sold to Al Jazeera Media Network with approval sought from regulators in Australia.[2] The channel became BeIN Sports Australia in November, 2014.


Setanta operated Setanta Sports and Setanta Action until October 2013 when the channels were acquired by 21st Century Fox. In July 2014, Fox announced that from August 2014 the channels would be rebranded Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2.[3]

Great Britain

Setanta GB operated Setanta Sports 1 & 2 and Setanta Golf within Great Britain. Under a joint venture with Virgin Media, it operated Setanta Sports News. Setanta GB also operated Arsenal TV, Celtic TV, LFC TV and Rangers TV with their respective clubs. Setanta GB went into administration on 22 June 2009, and at 18:00 most of its channels ceased operations within Great Britain.[4]

Arsenal TV continued until August 2009 while Arsenal explored alternative options.[5] Liverpool FC assumed responsibility for LFC TV and decided to continue broadcasting as normal.[6]

United States of America

Setanta Sports previously broadcast in the United States with Setanta Sports USA from 2005 to 2010. Fox Sports purchased the network's programming rights out of bankruptcy, adding them to Fox Soccer Channel's existing schedule and that on of a new network, Fox Soccer Plus.[7]


Setanta Sports previously operated a version of the channel in Canada as a joint venture with Canadian media company Rogers Communications (Setanta itself owned 20% of the network). However, its minority stake was acquired by Rogers in July 2011 and the channel was re-aligned as part of its Sportsnet networks, and become Sportsnet World on 3 October 2011.[8] The re-launch would also come alongside an overall re-branding of the Sportsnet networks.[9]


Setanta Sports launched a variation of the channel in Asia. In 2015, Discovery Networks International purchased the channel,[10] as of 2016 the channel is still branded as Setanta Sports under license from Setanta Ireland. Discovery may decided to rebrand the channel in due course. Setanta Asia currently operates Setanta Sports Plus and Setanta Sports Asia.

Other business

  • In 2009, Setanta Sports had shares in OneVision. OneVision were initially given the opportunity to develop the digital terrestrial network in the Republic of Ireland. Negotiations with RTÉ Networks fell through in May 2010
  • From March 2010, Setanta Sports have provided an online gaming service for customers within Ireland. The venture was developed in partnership with Jennings Bet
  • In October 2010, Setanta HD was launched exclusively on UPC Ireland
  • In October 2010, Setanta Sports launched applications on the iPhone and a Setanta Goals service for other handsets


Just as when Sky Sports, in the 1990s, first obtained the exclusive rights to screen live coverage of the England national football team's away qualifying matches for the World Cup, so Setanta attracted similar criticism as a result of it having obtained the same contract. Whereas Sky often sold on a highlights package to a terrestrial broadcaster (BBC), Setanta indicated that the sums offered by terrestrial broadcasters, reported to be £100,000 to £200,000, were five to ten times lower than their perceived market value; Setanta paid £5 million to screen England's away qualifier with Croatia on 10 September 2008 and believed a sensible highlights package should attract a fee of £1 million.[11] Thus, no highlights package was agreed, and Setanta themselves showed highlights of both England and Scotland qualifiers free-to-air after the live games had concluded. This was announced at 18:00 on the day the matches took place, and received 220,000 viewers.[12] Setanta then accepted "a low, six-figure deal" with ITV to show delayed "extended highlights" a few days later.[12]

Setanta's GB subscriber numbers were lower than those of Sky Sports, and the number of households watching the match live was estimated at around 1.5 million. Because of the availability of Setanta on both digital satellite and digital terrestrial television, the theoretical possible subscriber base surpassed that of Sky Sports (not available via DTT at the time) but fans who were unwilling to subscribe could not see the match live. British Prime Minister at the time Gordon Brown indicated he felt it "unfortunate" more fans could not see the match live for free.

Cancellation issues

Setanta GB also received significant criticism of its cancellation policy, with the issue investigated by the BBC's Watchdog programme and Radio 5 Live.[13] While customers were able to subscribe either on-line or over the telephone, many customers found it "nigh-on impossible to cancel" the service, with the only means of a cancellation being to inform the company in writing.[14]

Because of the amount of negative feedback received, Setanta GB eventually changed this to allow for cancellations to be done through email. Furthermore, while customers were originally entered into a 30-day notice period once their cancellation letter was received, this was increased to 60 days without any information being sent to customers; again, because of the negative feedback, this was quickly reduced back to 30 days.[14] These customer service issues were compounded by the fact that customers had to phone a premium rate number should they have any issues to resolve, with calls costing at least 10 pence per minute.[15]

Financial difficulties and Setanta GB administration

Reports on 7 June 2009 suggested that Setanta could be forced into administration that week[16] after failing to make payments due on TV rights. Because of late payment and renegotiation over fees by Setanta to football clubs, several British football clubs were put into financial difficulties as money promised had been spent in annual budgets. On 4 June 2009, the Scottish Premier League announced they would be paying the sums that some of the clubs were owed to avoid causing them financial problems.[17]

On 19 June 2009, Setanta Sports failed to pay the latest instalment of £30 million (€35 million) it owed the English Premier League. The Premier League had to sell the rights to the 46 live matches Setanta had for the 2009/10 season. A Premier League spokesman said, "It is with considerable regret that we announce that Setanta has been unable to meet their obligations. As such the existing licence agreement between us has been terminated with immediate effect."[18][19]

Following this, the Daily Mail reported that a rescue deal had failed.[20] Two days later, it was reported on RTÉ News that the original Setanta Sports channel Setanta Ireland might be bought out by an existing consortium who already hold interests in Setanta Sport Holdings Ltd the Irish arm of Setanta Sports. Setanta Sports Ireland and Setanta Sports North America were the only brands which made a profit in 2008.[21] The same day, Setanta lost all their SPL TV rights because they were unable to pay the £3m (€3.5m) owed to the league.[22] Following this, it was announced that ESPN had bought the rights to show the 46 Premier League games bought by Setanta next season.[23] Setanta GB went into administration following failure to make payments to a number of sporting organisations. About 200 employees were made redundant. The administration was handled by Deloitte.[24]

According to the final report published by Setanta's administrator Deloitte, released in July 2010, the broadcaster had outstanding bank loans of UK£261m and unsecured debt of UK£288m.[25] Deloitte said that unsecured lenders received just 2p for every pound that they have claimed back from the defunct operator.

Reaction in Great Britain

On 21 June 2009, BT Vision stopped selling Setanta Sports.[26] Disney's ESPN won the rights to broadcasting the Premier League matches forfeited by Setanta[27] for the 2009/10 season.[28][29] 430 jobs, 200 of which were in Ireland, were expected to be lost as a result of its going into administration.[30]


Setanta made a strong recovery in Ireland since the adversity in Great Britain, continuing its resurrection by employing a further 50 employees in February 2010.[31] The Setanta Ireland channel is available to entire UPC base as a basic channel in Ireland, around 1.3 million homes but actually in about 530,000. Setanta also has operations in Canada, Australia and Asia.[32]

In June 2013 it was announced that Setanta Sports will carry the new BT Sport channels as part of its overall sports package for Irish viewers. The deal will add 38 live Premier League games to its TV package and bring to 71 the total number of top-flight English matches on offer to Irish subscribers for the next three years.[33]

High definition TV

In September 2010, Setanta Ireland announced that it would be Ireland's first indigenous channel to broadcast in HD.[34] The service launched in February 2011.[35] The Dublin v Armagh Gaelic football encounter on 5 February 2011 was Ireland's first broadcast of Gaelic Games in high definition.[36]

See also

  • Special 1 TV – parody programme on Setanta Sports that featuring puppet caricatures of football personalities


  4. "Important Customer Message". Setanta Sports. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Arsenal FC statement regarding Arsenal TV". Arsenal FC. 24 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Liverpool FC: TV channel to continue". Digital Spy. 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Reynolds, Mike (27 January 2010). "Setanta Sports USA To Go Dark Feb. 28". Multichannel. Retrieved 24 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Krashinsky, Susan. "Rogers builds Sportsnet brand with soccer station". The Globe and Mail. Phillip Crawley. Retrieved 27 July 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Krashinsky, Susan. "Sportsnet drops the 'Rogers' and gains a whole new look". The Globe and Mail. Phillip Crawley.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Interview, Victoria Derbyshire (programme), BBC Radio 5 Live, 10–11 September 2008
  12. 12.0 12.1 ITV to show England-Croatia highlights after striking Setanta deal,, 11 September 2008; Retrieved 12 September 2008
  13. Victoria Derbyshire (10 September 2008). "I've fallen out of love with the England team, you've fallen out of love with Setanta". 5 live – Victoria Derbyshire's Blog. BBC. Retrieved 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Lou Birt – Programme Editor (21 January 2009). "The Setanta situation". 5 live – Victoria Derbyshire's Blog. BBC. Retrieved 23 June 2009. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Contact Us". Setanta. 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Setanta 'on brink of administration'". STV News. 7 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "SPL pays up in lieu of TV money". BBC News. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Setanta loses Premier TV rights". BBC News. 19 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Deadline looms for Setanta rights". BBC News. 21 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Sale, Charles (20 June 2009). "Setanta bust! FA face £100m crisis after TV company is forced to pull the plug". Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 21 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "ESPN snaps up Premier League rights". RTÉ News. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "SPL statement on Setanta". Scottish Premier League. 22 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "ESPN buys rights to Setanta games". BBC News. 22 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Setanta goes into administration". BBC News. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Sports broadcaster Setanta collapsed with £550m debts". City AM. 12 July 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. BT Vision stops selling Setanta BBC News, 21 June 2009
  27. Setanta loses Premier League contract after failing to repay debt Times Online 19 June 2009 (subscription required)
  28. ESPN buys rights to Setanta games, BBC Sport, 22 June 2009
  29. Setanta collapses could cost Premier League clubs £30m The, 18 June 2009
  30. Setanta goes into administration, BBC News, 23 June 2009
  31. Setanta to add 50 to workforce Irish Examiner, 24 February 2010
  32. Setanta set to broadcast top-class sport on new Asia station, 24 February 2010
  33. "Setanta Sports adds BT Sport Channels to line-up". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Setanta becomes first Irish channel to go HD TechTV101 Ireland, 17 September 2010
  35. GAA goes HD for the very first time on Setanta, 31 January 2011
  36. Setanta to broadcast GAA matches in HD Business and Leadership, 1 February 2011

External links