Five-ish things the GAA can learn from the Sky television deal
Without re-hashing the argument over subscription viewing let’s absorb the lessons
The rationale behind the GAA’s move into subscription broadcasting is it will revolutionise the availability of matches for members of the association in Britain where the games are proving increasingly popular as participation sports. Photograph: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
I’m as excited as anyone by the media trend for self-improvement, embodied in the desire to “learn five things” from various events and incidents. It’s really educational and also a rigorous discipline because something might happen from which we learn only three things but yet the quest for knowledge must continue.
Similarly, we may learn 19 things from a particularly complex development but it’s best to prioritise and reduce the number of meaningful lessons to five.
Five Things the GAA Learned from their Television Deal:
1) The GAA belongs to everyone – regardless.
I forget the author who came up with this memorable description but it ran along the lines of: “A big fat guy came into the room laughing, followed by two little guys helping him to laugh”.
If conversely, you want to complain about the GAA there’ll be no shortage of helpers.
If you’re a Croke Park official it will be part of the discourse that you will take “robust” and even ill informed criticism for your decisions but it’s best not to lapse into the shrill when defending your position.
There will also be measured and valid critiques. It’s a good idea to treat all negativity as if it’s in that category.
2) Insularity sells – you’re not the United Nations.
As a country we’ve made an art form out of surviving by effectively expelling people when things get bad. High emigration rates have been a “safety valve” throughout the State’s history, making it easier to avoid having to work out how to provide a society which caters properly for its citizenry.
The rationale behind the GAA’s move into subscription broadcasting is it will revolutionise the availability of matches for members of the association in Britain where the games are proving increasingly popular as participation sports.
Will it work? We’ll know in time but the engagement hasn’t been on the grounds the broadcasting rights allocation won’t achieve its stated intent; the argument has been to question why should we have to pay more to suit people overseas.
Nothing new in this, of course. There was virtually no complaining – certainly not on the scale we’ve experienced over the past week – when broadcast rights were sold to terrestrial channels not universally available in Northern Ireland despite the fact the territory covers most of one of the GAA’s provinces.
In parts of Ulster the main difference between TV3 and Sky is you can actually get a match on Sky if you want it badly enough.
3) What goes around comes around.
Does this report from the The Irish Times in June 1993 sound familiar? “The GAA says it will make over £300,000 over three years but PRO Danny Lynch said that their main concern in the deal was to obtain maximum exposure for Gaelic games overseas?”