Sky sports first season of exclusive championship coverage concluded at the weekend with the station's second highest audience of the summer for Saturday's All-Ireland football quarter-final double bill at Croke Park.
Perhaps surprisingly the first match broadcast, between Donegal and Armagh, captured a marginally higher viewership than the second encounter between All-Ireland champions Dublin and Monaghan. The first quarter-final threw in at 4.0 and attracted 54,400 – audience share of 8.59 per cent – whereas the second started at 6.0 and came in slightly lower at 52,600 (5.23 per cent).
The two matches had a similar reach, the numbers who tuned in for at least one minute, at 130,000.
The figures for Sky Sports 3, which broadcasts the championship matches, do not include High Definition viewers.
It is believed that between Ireland and Britain, about 50 per cent of Sky subscriptions are for HD.
There are no separate figures for Ireland but the percentage is likely to be lower although those who take sports channels tend to have a higher take-up of HD.
The first summer of the channel’s controversial deal with the GAA featured some poor audiences – as low as around 10,000 – but the later matches in the schedules proved more popular with interest peaking for the Wexford-Waterford All-Ireland SHC qualifier on 19th July, when just over 60,000 tuned in to see Liam Dunne’s team progress to the quarter-finals.
Sky will continue to broadcast the All-Ireland series but not exclusively, as RTÉ remain rights holders for the closing stages of the championship. Sunday saw the first head-to-head between the stations with the All-Ireland hurling semi-final between Limerick and Kilkenny going out on both stations.
Unsurprisingly, the terrestrial audience dwarfed its rival with The Sunday Game Live pulling in 434,000 (41.28 per cent share) whereas Sky's broadcast was watched by 9,400 (.88 per cent share).
Meanwhile it has been announced that Wexford football manager Aidan O'Brien is to step down after two years in charge of the county.
Originally from Westmeath, O'Brien is vice-principal of Good Counsel, New Ross and was involved with the school's successes in colleges football before taking up the county job in succession to Jason Ryan.
In a time of transition Wexford reached the semi-finals of the Leinster championship in both years, before being narrowly defeated by Laois in the qualifiers on both occasions.
According to a brief statement from county chair Diarmuid Devereux on the county website, O'Brien confirmed that he would be stepping down 'for personal reasons'.