|Launched||25 September 2009|
|Owned by||Premier Media S.à r.l.|
|Picture format||16:9, 576i (SDTV)|
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom|
|Formerly called||MSK/MSK Extra
|Sky (UK only)||Channel 428|
|Virgin Media||Channel 551|
|TalkTalk Plus TV||Channel 526|
|Premier Player||Watch live|
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
Premier Sports was formed in 2009 by the Irish businessman Michael O'Rourke, a joint CEO and part owner of Setanta Sports and former director of Premium Sports. The channel initially focused on broadcasting sporting events which had not been available in Great Britain since the collapse of Setanta Sports GB on 22 June 2009 and were not picked up by rival sports broadcasters such as ESPN and Sky Sports but are available through Setanta in Ireland. The management of the channel is made up of CEO Michael O'Rourke, General Manager Richard Sweeney and Operations Director Richard Webb.
On 16 July 2010, the official Premier Sports website was launched, at the time the domain was registered to Setanta Sports, as was MSK's. Premier Sports' registered office in Luxembourg is also the same as Setanta Sports.
In April 2013, Premier Sports and Premier Sports Extra began to share their satellite stream with Setanta Sports 1, the arrangement continued after Premier Sports Extra closed on 13 June 2013. Only Premier Sports branding appears on the channel, with the exception Setanta's coverage of the Premier League, which is blocked on Premier Sports.
Premier Sports operates on the Sky platform, on channel 428. MSK and MSK Extra were added to Sky on 25 September 2009 and relabelled Premier Sports and Premier Sports Extra on 29 July 2010. On 13 June 2013, Premier Sports Extra closed with its Sky EPG slot believed to have been sold to the Muslim World Network, which launched on the same day. Premier Sports Extra only operated for a limited number of hours during midweek, when Premier Sports closed as they used a single satellite stream. The channels were free-to-air from launch to both domestic and commercial customers but became a pay subscription channel on 5 August 2010. However the channel is sold independently by Premier Sports, rather than through Sky. On 30 June 2010, the video bit rate was increased from 2.8Mbit/s to 4.2Mbit/s.
For many years, Premier Sports was not available on Virgin Media, although negotiations were held in early 2012. Talks broke down when Premier Sports declined Virgin Media's offer to distribute the channel as a standalone add-on, as it is on satellite, as Premier Sports wanted to be bundled into one of Virgin Media's basic TV packages. On 25 October 2013 the channel launched on Virgin Media as a free channel, the day before the start of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. It became a subscription channel on 1 March 2014. On 22 August 2014, along with BoxNation, Premier Sports launched on TalkTalk.
In April 2013, Premier Sports launched their own online player to replace the Ustream service. The service is available on multiple platforms including iOS and Android. As well as live streaming, the service also features seven day catch-up and optional season long on-demand content. Some sports are also available to view worldwide.
On 9 November 2012, it was announced that Premier Sports would broadcast 260 hours of Indoor Bowls in 2013. The deal includes coverage of the World Bowls Tour International Open, PBA Masters, National Under-25s, EIBA Singles Finals, England Internationals, World Pairs and Premier Threes events.
From September 2010, Premier Sports began to air a number of live boxing events, featuring the likes of Lucian Bute, Érik Morales, Shane Mosley and Felix Sturm. On 8 December 2010, Premier Sports announced an exclusive UK deal with AIBI for the World Series of Boxing starting from December. In February 2011, Premier Sports announced they would air all ShoBox: The New Generation events in 2011 and access Gary Shaw's archive of world title fights from the past five years. Premier Sports will also air eight Top Rank events in 2011-2012. On 14 August 2011, the channel signed a deal with Spencer Fearon's Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions that saw six events from York Hall broadcast live, starting on 7 October 2011.
The 2011 Copa Libertadores was televised exclusively on the channel, with thirty-five live games, plus a weekly highlights package. Premier Sports also aired thirty matches from the 2011 Copa Sudamericana, seventy-four matches from the 2011 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and Campeonato Paulista as well as seventy-six matches from the 2010–11 Argentine Primera División season. The 2011–12 Argentine Primera División season and 2012 Copa Libertadores will also be shown on the channel. Premier Sports also air football from the League of Ireland.
In January 2012, it was announced that Celtic TV and Rangers TV would each air as a three-hour block on Monday evenings. Coverage will include full replays of the weekends matches that were not aired live on Sky Sports or ESPN, pre and post-match analysis and classic archive footage.
On 19 August 2010, Premier Sports announced that it had bought the live and exclusive television rights to thirty matches per season from the Conference National for a total of three seasons, covering the 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons. The thirty matches selected for broadcast will include all five Conference National play-offs. The deal with the Football Conference was a revenue sharing arrangement whereby clubs would receive 50% of revenue from subscriptions, on top of the normal rights fee paid by the broadcaster, once the costs of production had been met. The Conference would also earn 50% from all internet revenue associated with the deal and retain advertising rights allied to those adverts shown with their matches.
However, Premier Sports announced on Facebook in April 2011 that the company had failed to attract enough viewers to its Conference football broadcasts to share any revenue with the clubs beyond the £5,000 broadcast fee paid to home clubs and £1,000 to away clubs. "It is a shame the number did not reach the point where revenue sharing became an option," said a Premier Sports spokesperson on its Facebook discussion board.
Premier Sports currently has exclusive British TV rights to approximately 75% Gaelic Athletic Association games broadcast live Gaelic games, including all matches from packs 2,3,4,7,8 & 9 from the Championships, All televised National Football League and National Hurling League, the Irish-hosted versions of the International Rules Series between Australia and Ireland, and also the rights to show archived classic Gaelic football and hurling matches in Great Britain.
In November 2011, Premier Sports agreed to broadcast five nights of free-to-air coverage from the Greyhound Premier League, up to grand finals night in February 2012.
On 3 October 2012, the European Handball Federation announced that Premier Sports had acquired the rights to the EHF Champions League and would be broadcasting one game per week in full either live or delayed as well as the weekly highlights package.
On 5 July 2012, Premier Sport's announced on their Facebook page that NHL would continue for a further 4 years on the channel with appropriately 400 games per season being broadcast and complimented by daily coverage of Hockey Tonight.
On 29 October 2013, Premier Sports announced they would begin covering a game of the week each Saturday at 7pm from the UK Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) during the 2013-2014 season. This brings the total amount of Ice Hockey on Premier Sports to over 45 hours each week.
Mixed martial arts
In March 2011, Premier Sports and Cage Warriors announced a partnership that would see the final eight Cage Warriors events planned for 2011 being broadcast live and available free-to-view on the channel.
On 15 August 2011, UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle was shown free-to-view on Premier Sports, in addition to free coverage on UFC.tv. A similar deal was put in place for UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson on 2 October 2011 and UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos on 13 November 2011.
On 31 December 2012 Glory Sports International promoted their Dream 18 & Glory 4 Tokyo ~ Special 2012 ~ New Year's Eve card from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event was broadcast live and available free-to-view on the channel.
Premier Sports broadcast all 38 weeks of racing from the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The races air live and advert-free, however pre and post race coverage contains ad breaks in-line with the American host broadcaster. In a one-off deal, Kimi Räikkönen's Camping World Truck Series debut was broadcast live and free-to-view. During the final week of the 2011 NASCAR season, in addition to the main NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Premier Sports showed the final races in the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series live, commercial free and free-to-view. Premier Sports will also air the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. On 15 November 2012, the channel announced a 2-year extension had been agreed with NASCAR to continue showing all 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races live as well as 5 live Camping World Truck races along with highlights of every Truck race.
In addition, the channel aired twenty dates from the 2011 BriSCA F1 Stock Cars season and exclusive highlights of the MASCAR series during the second half of the 2011 season. In January 2012, Premier Sports signed a 2-year extension with BriSCA F1 for highlights from 24 races per season.
Premier Sports air all 201 games of rugby league from the Australian National Rugby League every year alongside the NRL Footy Show, NRL Full Time and Rugby League Back Chat. They also have exclusive rights to the State of Origin Series. In January 2011, Premier Sports agreed a deal for live coverage of five games from the Student Rugby League's Super 8 competition on a free-to-view basis.
On 18 October 2011, it was announced that up to 32 games from the Rugby Football League Championship, Championship 1 and Championship Cup will be televised live by Premier Sports in the 2012 season. Matches will mainly be screened on Thursday night with the possibility of a number of double headers. There will be one game shown live from the Championship or Championship 1 in each of the regular rounds and at least three play-off games will be televised as well as both the Championship and Championship 1 finals. One game from the Championship Cup quarter-finals and semi-finals will be shown live as well as the final.
On 17 August 2012, Premier Sports announced it had the rights to the French Top 14 league, usually broadcasting two live games per round. These rights transferred to BT Sport for the 2013–14 season.
On 16 August 2010, Premier Sports bought the live and exclusive British television rights to the Europa League play-off match between Utrecht and Celtic on 26 August 2010. However, a number of subscribers missed some or all of the game because of a problem due to the volume of demand. Premier Sports refunded those who didn't see the entire game and issued a public apology on Facebook.
Premier Sports have also come under criticism for delaying coverage of GAA games in favour of rugby league coverage although Premier Sports did show some games on their website for free. The channel responded by saying that the Northern Rail Rugby League Cup final date and time had been agreed by the RFL, Blackpool Council and local police before they had begun filming games and therefore it could not be moved. The channel also cut away from live NHL games in favour of live greyhound racing. Again, the channel explained to viewers via Facebook that they had taken a gamble bringing in an eleventh bonus game asked for by many that week in the knowledge that if it went to overtime they were contractually obliged to go to live greyhound coverage.
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