Virgin Media confirms Sky Sports HD launch

Virgin Media has confirmed it will launch Sky Sports 1 HD and Sky Sports 2 HD on its cable platform for the first time on August 2.

The channels will cost £7 (€8.28) per month on any TV package as long as subscribers also take the standard definition versions of the channels. That fee will give access to “subscribed Sky Premium” HD channels, meaning that those taking the Sky Movies package will receive high definition versions of the channels. The deal with Sky also brings Sky 1 HD and Sky Arts HD to Virgin Media’s basic HD channel line-up.

The move comes after Virgin Media secured new long-term carriage deals for wholesale distribution of Sky’s basic packages during the negotiations that saw the cable operator sell its channels business VMtv to Sky earlier this month. It is understood that the parties agreed that Virgin Media would have the option of carrying any of Sky’s basic and premium HD channels for the first time for an incremental wholesale fee. Virgin Media’s announcement comes weeks after rival pay-TV service BT Vision announced plans to offer a low-cost Sky Sports package following regulator Ofcom’s decision to force Sky to sell its sports channels at a wholesale price. BT is offering Sky Sports 1 and 2 for £16.99 (€20.80) a month as a package on a month-by-month basis, or £11.99 for each channel individually to customers, renewable on a monthly basis, that sign up for a 12-month BT broadband and BT Vision contract.

Virgin Media claims customers taking its basic TV and HD sports package will save £144.12 compared to Sky. The addition of Sky’s HD channels takes the total number of HD channels available on Virgin Media to 30.