*Clare’s Munster championship win over Limerick was one of the games aired on GAAGO. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CLARE COUNCILLORS including a former Chairman of Clare GAA are seeking a Government intervention with RTÉ and the GAA to ensure inter-county games be made available free to air.
GAAGO is a commercial company jointly owned by RTÉ and the GAA which operates as a streaming platform and broadcasts games online. After eight years of serving the GAA’s international fan base, 2023 saw GAAGO enter the Irish market but not without controversy.
A total of 38 inter-county championship matches this season aired exclusively on GAAGO. Clare’s Munster championship win over Limerick plus victories over Tipperary and Waterford were among those along with Kerry’s wins over Mayo, Tyrone and Cork while the keenly contested clash between Armagh and Monaghan was also on GAAGO only.
Joe Ó Muircheartaigh, a journalist with The Kerry’s Eye and a man with roots in Ennis recently pointed out “All 48 games of 2023 Rugby World Cup on free-to-air TV in Ireland” while several high-profile GAA were “behind a paywall”.
In July, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has opened an inquiry into the GAAGO platform, to determine whether it complies with competition law.
At the September meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Pat Daly (FF), Cllr John Crowe (FG) and Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) requested the local authority “to ask the government to intervene with RTÉ and the GAA, to ensure that for the future inter county championship matches are made available to watch on TV, where possible”.
Director General of the GAA, Tom Ryan told the Oireachtas Media and Sports Committee in July that although it was “great” that people want to see football and hurling matches, he said “the expectation that every single game should be on television is just not realistic”. He added, “It’s not in our interest, and not in our plans”. He said that the total income for GAAGO is approximately four million euro a year, and that the he believed that the domestic viewership is greater.
A regular visitor to Cusack Park in Ennis, Cllr Daly commented, “Inter-county matches particularly the Munster hurling championship is the highlight for so many people in this county and across the country”. He outlined that “for so many reasons” people are unable to attend games and asked that RTÉ review their policy with the GAA. “They are forgetting about the ordinary people,” the Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District commented.
Negotiations between the Government in helping to fund RTÉ into the future needs to include the broadcasting of games free-to-air as part of the discussions, Cllr Crowe maintained. “It is a fright that people who aren’t able to go to the games that they can’t just watch their teams compete on the television, the timing might be right for this especially with the current situation in RTÉ, they might come to their senses and realise people in this country want to see their matches on it. With all the negotiations going on, this should be part of it. With cashless matches now too it is nearly time to call a halt to all this craic”.
A Chairman of Clare GAA for five years, Cllr Cooney acknowledged that it is “very hard to get tickets for some matches”. The Mayor of Clare who is currently Chairman of the O’Callaghans Mills GAA club added, “we need to think of the elderly people who can’t go to games. Something should be worked out between RTÉ and GAA to broadcast the games”.
Calls to review the system of 2023 were “only fair,” Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) believed.