Premier Sports was formed in 2009 by the Irish businessman Michael O’Rourke, a joint CEO and part owner of Setanta Sports and director of Premium Sports. The channel initially focussed 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.
On 16 July 2010, the official Premier Sports website was launched, the domain is registered to Setanta Sports. Premier Sports’ registered office in Luxembourg is also the same as Setanta Sports.
Premier Sports operates on the Sky platform, on channels 428 and 430. MSK and MSK Extra was added to Sky on 25 September 2009 and relabelled Premier Sports and Premier Sports Extra on 29 July 2010. Premier Sports Extra only operates for a limited number of hours during midweek, when Premier Sports closes. The channel was 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.
Initially Premier Sports was only available in Great Britain but on 3 November 2011 became available in Northern Ireland. Premier Sports Extra is still limited to Great Britain.
Premier Sports is 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.
In August 2012, Premier Sports launched an online subscription streaming service, run in conjunction with Ustream. The 2Mbit/s stream broadcasts all events and programming on the TV channel.
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