Tennis fans threaten to leave Sky – should you?

As Roger Federer celebrated his victory in this morning’s Australian Open final, we were again warned by commentator Chris Bradnam, and with an on-screen graphic, that Eurosport could disappear from their screens on Wednesday.

Eurosport were keen to promote their Grand Slam coverage following Sunday's final.

Eurosport were keen to promote their Grand Slam coverage following Sunday’s final.

Yesterday, Sky said Discovery Networks have asked for £1 billion for their package of channels, which includes Eurosport – it doesn’t say what period of time this covers. Discovery says Sky is paying no more now for its channels than it did ten years ago, and it didn’t even own Eurosport then.

Thousands of Sky subscribers have expressed their dismay that Sky and Discovery have been unable to agree on carriage terms, which may result in those channels disappearing from Sky.

There have been over 400 tweets disgruntled tennis fans in less than four days, many of them directed to Sky, telling them they’ll cancel their packages. But should you phone up Sky to cancel, and if so when is the right time to do so?

We are told that negotiations are still ongoing, so cancelling before the 1 February deadline could be premature. Sky and Discovery could still reach an agreement which means nothing will change and the channels stay on air.

Even if they do disappear, it may not be for long. Both Sky and Discovery set to lose money if they do not reach an agreement, so it’s in both parties’ interest to get the channels back on air as quickly as possible.

However, a similar dispute between Sky and Virgin Media in 2007 left cable viewers without channels such as Sky 1 for over 20 months. Virgin Media lost 47,000 customers in the first three months of the blackout.

Eurosport’s next live tennis is in May, when they cover the ATP 250 events in Estoril and Istanbul. Tennis fans will be looking forward to Eurosport’s extensive coverage of the French Open, British grass court season, and US Open.

If you’ve taken out a Eurosport Player subscription (£19.99 before 31 January), you can run this on some smart TVs or via an Amazon Fire stick, or you can cast it from your computer or mobile device to your TV, so you can still enjoy Eurosport on a big screen.

The extra content on offer through Eurosport Player makes it worth the subscription even if Eurosport 1 and 2 stay on Sky, as the main channels don’t always have all of the action live, and you can also take it out of the house with you on your mobile.

With that in mind, it might not be time to quit Sky just yet. If you’re a subscriber to Sky Sports or BT Sport, for their ATP and WTA coverage, and want to keep watching those channels too, changing providers may not be so easy as there may be penalties for ending those contracts.

Virgin Media is the only other platform which offers all of the channels from Eurosport, Sky Sports and BT Sport. Only Sky Sports 1, 2 and 5 are available to BT TV customers, who must have their Infinity fibre broadband.

If you can’t get cable or fibre broadband in your area, you set to lose at least some of these channels by leaving Sky, although Sky Sports is also available through Now TV at £33.99 per month.

It’s also not yet clear if Sky will allow its customers to leave without penalty due to the reduced number of channels. However, customers are entitled to leave once they have received notification of the price increase due in March.