Publicans attack live sport broadcast prices

The Vintners Federation of Ireland has said the fees Sky and Eir Sport are charging pubs to show live sport broadcast on their channels are “unsustainable”.
Publicans attack live sport broadcast prices

In a fresh attack on commercial cable television charges, the federation — the nationwide representative body for bars and pubs — yesterday warned the “extremely high cost” of commercial subscriptions could act as a precursor to rising drinks prices in pubs.

This month, Sky raised its commercial subscription rates by 20%, while Eir Sport (formerly Setanta Sports) maintained its prices — though with a reduced offering, say the federation.

Nearly 80% of pubs are paying, on average, €13,000 to €17,000 per year on cable television packages. Federation data shows that a pub with an annual turnover of up to €190,000 is paying Sky €604 per month and Eir Sport €285; with the annual cable rate topping €13,000 when the separately ordered racing and pay-per-view boxing channels are taken into account. This increases with larger pubs.

According to federation chief executive Pádraig Cribben, one Sky transmission box is eating into 4% to 5% of a pub’s annual turnover, with that percentage doubling if the bar has more than one box, which is often the case.

Also, most pubs see it as necessary to pay for all transmission companies.

The public needs to realise these hidden costs affect bar prices, Mr Cribben said, saying that publicans also need to determine if they are getting any return on their television spend.

While he said TV costs are unlikely to result in anything as dramatic as pub closures, he said they may result in many pubs looking to up drink and snack prices to cover their expenditure.

Many publicans feel they need to maintain their subscriptions as customers now expect the option of live sport as a given in their local pub, Mr Cribben said.

“Some [pubs] may need to look at their pricing models. They can’t continue to absorb unseen prices and not pass them on [to customers],” he said.

A spokesperson for Sky said it reviews prices “from time to time”, and works hard to minimise the impact on customers and “to ensure pubs can keep driving trade with the best entertainment product for their businesses”.

Eir, meanwhile, said its rates are more competitive than its rivals’ and are commensurate with pubs’ licence values. It said it is confident its pricing “fairly reflects the quality and quantity of sport that we provide to commercial premises”.

In June, the federation said it was concerned over commercial costs for pubs and asked the Government to tackle insurance costs.

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