Setanta in major US digital TV deal

25 Apr 2005

Irish sports broadcaster Setanta has signed a lucrative broadcasting deal with US digital television giant DirecTV to launch the Setanta Sports channel across the US on a 24-hour basis, has learned.

The channel will be offered as a premium subscription service and is expected to attract an audience from various ethnic communities and predominantly male 25-54 European, expatriate football fans living in the US.

DirecTV reaches more than 13.9 million homes across the US. Setanta Sports is also negotiating digital distribution deals with other cable, satellite, broadband and wireless providers in the US.

Setanta Sports debuts on DirecTV on April 26 and will be available to residential subscribers for US$11.99 a month and commercial subscribers for US$100 a month. It will air seven days a week, 18 hours a day until August and then expand to a full 24-hour channel.

The DirecTV carriage agreement is part of a long-term strategy by both parties to serve the increasing demand for European and international soccer in the American market.

The channel is dedicated to soccer from countries such as Ireland, England and Scotland and also carries an increasing number of European and world-class rugby events. The programming will feature top-quality live sports productions from a number of major European broadcasters.

Setanta Sports will feature 1,000 live and short-delay sports events, including the UEFA Champions League, the premiere club competition for European Club teams; the FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches; the UEFA Cup, the secondary, Europe-wide knock-out competition for Club sides; the Coca Cola Championship (previously the National League); Manchester United and Chelsea matches, the British and Irish Lions rugby tour and Tri-Nations rugby.

According to Setanta the launch of the digital TV service will coincide with the kick-off of a major marketing campaign targeting print and online advertising, television campaigns and event promotions.

By John Kennedy