Virgin Media and Setanta Sports have confirmed that they are teaming up to launch a new sports channel, Setanta Sports News. The announcement was made at a press briefing in London this lunchtime.
The new channel - to be launched soon - will be available exclusively and free to some three million Virgin Media digital TV subscribers in a bid to take on Sky and its various sports channels.
Setanta said it aims to bring sport to new audiences, as well as to hardcore sports fans. Setanta Sports News will combine live sporting action from major tournaments with user-generated content such as the 'Fan Van' and viewers' videos. It will also feature the usual rolling news headlines, comment and analysis, as well as previews and reports on the big stories in sport.
"Setanta Sports News will engage directly with fans on their level and bring them stories and issues that really matter to them. It will be a powerful new voice in sports news. With a full spectrum of live location reports, interviews, studio-based experts and discussion shows, this is a channel with genuine appeal to real sport fans," said Michael O'Rourke, co-founder of Setanta Sports .
Online sporting portal
A new online sports portal will also be launched. The Virgin Media online sport portal will go live this Monday 30 July. It'll show free highlights from all Barclays Premier League, Coca-Cola Championship, League 1 and League 2 matches. The highlights, which are free to watch for anyone with internet access, will remain online for a week after transmission.
The Virgin Media online sport portal will also focus heavily on integration with viewers. It'll include a mixture of match highlights combined with views, comment, opinionated editorial and user-generated content. There'll also be up-to-the-minute reaction and feedback direct from the frontline.
Ex-Southend footballer and comedian, Terry Alderton, has been drafted in to present video commentary and news and views on the portal. A selection of sporting personalities - including Kelly Dalglish, Eddie Irvine, Andrew Castle, Mike Catt and Alistair Cook - will also write for the virginmedia.com/sport site. They'll cover sports from rugby to golf and motor sports.
"With our free online highlights covering every Premier League and Football League club in the UK, football fans will be able to keep up-to-date no matter which club they support," said Malcolm Wall, Virgin Media's CEO of content.
"Sport is all about the fans and the internet is the perfect medium for bringing the beautiful game to life. But no matter what the sport, fans will find our new portal the best place to get their daily dose of what's going on and off the pitch."
Virgin Media subscribers
Subscribers to Virgin Media's XL basic TV package, plus any new Virgin Media subscribers, will get the new Setanta Sports News channel, plus an additional six Setanta Sports channels for free from today. These are: Setanta Sports 1, Setanta Sports 2, Setanta Golf, Racing UK, Celtic TV and Rangers TV.
Those subscribing to any other Virgin Media TV service who want to add the Setanta channels can do so for £8 per month.