Fans anger as new streaming service gets rights to Northern Ireland fixtures from 2024

Northern Ireland reignite World Cup hopes
Staff reporter


Staff reporter

Northern Ireland’s European Qualifiers for the Euros and World Cup and friendlies will all be shown exclusively on streaming service Viaplay from 2024.

Nations League games will also be on the service as part of the deal which was agreed centrally by UEFA.

Scotland and Wales fixtures are also part of the deal. The package also includes all matches in the various competitions featuring all other European teams (apart from England), including top-ranked sides such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

It’s led to anger from supporters who are already paying for multiple subscriptions for the likes of Sky and BT Sport.

“Good luck trying to get anyone to sign up for a handful of games whilst they already pay for Sky and BT for weekly football. Growing the pockets rather than the game,” one fan said.

“Sky, BT, Premier Sports and now Viaplay. When will someone stand up for the fans and say enough is enough?” added another.

Another felt that the supporters had been “shafted yet again”.

Anders Jensen, Group President and CEO of Sweden-based NENT Group, which operates the Viaplay platform, said: “This is Viaplay’s biggest UK sports milestone so far. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have exciting young teams that millions of fans will be able to follow exclusively on our world-class platform.

“These matches are in good hands. We work closely with UEFA in the Nordic and Baltic regions and know how much national sides mean to supporters.

“Viaplay’s multi-territory partnerships with rights holders will be a key advantage as we challenge further in the UK sports market. The timing is also advantageous with these rights coming on stream in 2024, which allows us time to build our UK brand and to innovate the Viaplay viewing experience even further.”

Guy-Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director at UEFA, said: “We are delighted to enter this new partnership with Viaplay with its expansion into the UK.

“Viaplay will provide a comprehensive and innovative home for the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales national team matches as well as for all other third-party European national team matches played during the European Qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2026 and UEFA EURO 2028, as well as the UEFA Nations League 2024 and 2026, including the UEFA Nations League Finals in 2025 and 2027.

“With Viaplay’s long-lasting football track record, we are confident that football fans across the UK will be part of the journey of each of the three nations and will be offered excellent coverage of the UEFA national team football competitions between 2024 and 2028, whichever screen they choose to use.”

In addition to the UK, Viaplay and UEFA’s partnership spans Sweden, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Viaplay will launch in the UK in the second half of 2022 with a broad streaming offering that combines live sports with premium original Nordic content and more. Further details of Viaplay’s UK content, pricing and launch date will be announced in due course.

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