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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 23 October, 2018
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Where can I watch this week's Champions League games on Irish TV?

The launch of Virgin Media Sport has sparked a shake-up in the Irish rights market.

Image: Nick Potts

LESS THAN FOUR months after Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for a 13th time, the 2018/19 Champions League gets underway this evening as the road to Madrid begins in earnest.

The La Liga giants, now under the management of Julen Lopetegui following Zinedine Zidane’s shock summer departure, are bidding to win a fourth consecutive title and are certainly the team to beat again, but Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG and Manchester City will have something to say about that.

Uefa has made some slight changes to its flagship competition for this season, with the most significant being the alteration to kick-off times during the group stages which has been introduced to ensure television viewers can see more matches.

Starting tonight, each matchday will have two kick-off times, with two of the games starting at the earlier time of 5.55pm, while the other six will get underway at 8pm.

While the split is designed to allow viewers take in back-to-back games on any given matchday, a new TV rights deal in Ireland may, in fact, reduce the amount of action certain fans in this country can watch live.

RTÉ has essentially moved its Champions League coverage from a Wednesday to Tuesday night, with the state broadcaster now showing one of the later 8pm kick-offs each Tuesday. Tonight, they will show Liverpool’s clash with PSG from Anfield.

But TV3 — now Virgin Media — announced back in May it had acquired the rights for 327 games across the Champions League and Europa League, with the Ballymount broadcaster sparking a major shake-up in the Irish market.

Virgin Media 1, which is free-to-air and has replaced TV3, will carry live coverage of a 5.55pm game on a Tuesday night, with their opening fixture the meeting of Inter Milan and Tottenham. 

Toommy Martin and Graeme Souness Virgin Media have acquired the rights for 327 European games this season. Source: Maxwell Photography

But their coverage on a Wednesday night will switch to Virgin Media Sport, their newly-launched sports subscription channel, which means there will be no Champions League game available to Irish viewers free-to-air on a Wednesday night this season. 

Virgin Media Sport launches tonight and is available at no additional cost to Virgin Media TV customers, or can be purchased on a €20-a-month subscription.

Virgin Media Sport’s coverage of Liverpool v PSG begins at 7.50pm this evening in the company of Graeme Souness, Niall Quinn and Mick McCarthy, with commentary from Chris Sutton and Trevor Welch.

On Wednesday, all eight games will be live across Virgin Media Sport, with build-up to Young Boys v Manchester United, the feature game of the night, from 7pm. Manchester City v Lyon is live on Virgin Media Sport Extra 1.

BT Sport have retained their exclusive UK rights in a £1.18 billion deal and their widespread coverage of the competition is available to Irish viewers via the eir Sport platform, which again is a pay-per-view network. 

This is where you can watch all of this week’s matchday one games on Irish TV:

Tuesday:

  • Inter Milan v Tottenham, 5.55pm – Virgin Media 1/eir Sport/BT Sport
  • Liverpool v PSG, 8pm – RTÉ2/Virgin Media Sport/eir Sport/ BT Sport
  • All other games – Virgin Media network/eir Sport/BT Sport 

Wednesday:

  • Young Boys v Manchester United, 8pm – Virgin Media Sport/eir Sport/ BT Sport 
  • Manchester City v Lyon, 8pm – Virgin Media Sport 1/eir Sport BT Sport
  • All other games – Virgin Media network/ eir Sport/BT Sport

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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