GAA keep to 40 championship games on TV

Championship coverage stays the same as no appetite for increase perceived

Gaa Director General Páraic Duffy. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES

Gaa Director General Páraic Duffy. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh / THE IRISH TIMES


Live television coverage of this summer’s championship will again be limited to 40 games, with the GAA admitting there is no great appetite for any increase in the number of live games going for tender when the domestic broadcast rights next come up for renewal at the end of the season.

The current package of domestic broadcast rights came in for 2011, a three-year deal which saw the number of senior championship games tendered for live television broadcast reduced from 50 matches annually to 40.

This was seen as partly reflect concerns about championship attendances, while not impacting heavily on the television audiences as the fixtures dropped were primarily from the early part of the season.

Such a reduction was flagged by the association’s director general Páraic Duffy, who has now confirmed to The Irish Times even when the contracts come up for renewal later this year, there is unlikely to be an increase in the number of games tendered for live broadcast.

“It’s 40 this year again,” says Duffy, “and I don’t think there is any big demand to change that.”

Under the current deal, RTÉ’s traditional grip on live GAA championship broadcasts was further loosened, as TV3 got the rights to nine live games, and Newstalk radio also gained rights for those three seasons, 2011-2013, with a choice of “second” championship matches.

Currently, RTÉ get to broadcast 31 senior championship games, and TV3 cover nine.

However TV3’s coverage now includes two provincial football finals, as well as two All-Ireland football quarter-finals, two qualifiers, one provincial hurling final and two other provincial fixtures, plus the All-Ireland minor finals.

In 2010, there were 50 matches included in the live schedule by RTÉ and TV3. When the contacts were previously up for renewal, they went from 36 live games to 50, and 40 games appears to get the balance right between positive exposure and not cutting into club activity.

Go out live

All four of this weekend’s Allianz Football League finals in Croke Park will go out live on TG4 on GAA Beo : on Saturday, the Division Four final between Limerick and Offaly starts at 5pm, followed by the Division Three final between Meath and Monaghan at 7pm, while on Sunday, the Division Two final between Derry and Westmeath starts at 2pm, followed by Dublin and Tyrone in the Division One final at 4pm.

Whatever the merits of broadcasting all four of those games live, Duffy has agreed there are questions to be asked about the need for a final in the lower divisions, or whether they should be played in Croke Park on a Saturday evening.

“That is a question that the CCCC have to think about. But if you make that change you would want to make it before the competition starts because one of the pluses for the teams in Division Three and Four is they like playing in Croke Park.”

Westmeath are back to full strength for Sunday, making eight changes that include the return of goalkeeper Gary Connaughton, defender James Dolan, midfielder John Heslin and forwards Ger Egan, Callum McCormack, Kieran Martin, Ciarán Curley and Denis Glennon.

WESTMEATH (SF v Derry): G Connaughton; M McCallion, J Gaffey, K Maguire; D Harte, P Sharry, J Dolan; D Duffy, J Heslin; G Egan, C McCormack, K Martin; D Corroon, C Curley, D Glennon.