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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.
Since 2011 the channel has broadcast footballing action from South America. 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 were shown on the channel.
In May 2015, Premier Sports announced it had won exclusive rights to all 26 games from the 2015 Copa América that runs between 11 June and 4 July 2015.
In 2015, Premier Sports began to show coverage of the Belgian Pro League live which includes three matches from each round of fixtures.
The channel also has the rights to broadcast the Republic of Ireland national football team’s home friendlies.
Premier Sports has also regularly shown UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League qualifiers that included British teams, including Shkëndija versus Aberdeen in July 2015.
Premier Sports also broadcasts a selection of friendly matches during the football season, e.g. New York Red Bulls against Arsenal in 2014.
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.
Premier Sports is the only channel in the UK which broadcasts ice hockey and it has increased its coverage of the sport in recent years.
On 12 October 2011, Premier Sports announced that they would broadcast up to 10 live National Hockey League games per week from the 2011–12 season. 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 19 November 2012, Premier Sport’s announced on their Facebook page that they would be showing 2 games per week from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) during season 2012-2013.
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.
The channel also broadcasts live coverage of the Ice Hockey World Championships.
Premier Sports broadcasts all 38 weeks of racing from the 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.
Premier Sports airs all 201 games of rugby league from the Australian National Rugby League every year alongside the NRL Footy Show, state of origin, 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. The channel also covers the State of Origin series.
On 10 April 2013, it was announced that Premier Sports would have full live coverage of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, alongside the BBC’s coverage of England games. The channel will also cover the 2017 event.
Premier Sports also provides full coverage of the Four Nations championship.
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.
Premier Sports has from time to time aired 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 included 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 included 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.
In May 2013, the rights for the 2013–14 season were awarded to BT Sport.
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.
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 aired all 24 weeks of the Swedish Elite League Speedway live in 2011, with a two-year extension announced in April 2012.
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.
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 were 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. Coverage of the Championship is now shown on Sky Sports.
In July 2012, Premier Sports broadcast the Anglo-French Challenge matches between Leigh Centurions and Avignon XIII and Featherstone Rovers and Pia XIII, the later was broadcast free-to-air.
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.
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