Following on from yesterdays news that the GAA recorded losses of 34 million in 2020 as the COVID 19 pandemic impacted on the organisation substantially. Central revenues dropped from 73.9 million in 2019 to 31.4 million last year.
The Association’s commercial director Peter McKenna has namechecked online streaming subscription service ‘Amazon’ as a player in the market for media rights to show games under the next agreement.
McKenna Said ” The importance of sport from a national broadcast sense is far more important now when you see where other content is available. We have a very good product for media rights negotiation and I think there is a lot of players in the market now and new ones coming into it, so I would be very confident about a very healthy discussion with the existing partners but there is some newcomers coming into that frame too like Amazon.”
In 2014 Sky Sports came onto the market and secured the rights to 20 games in the All Ireland Hurling and Football Championship The the first game broadcast on the television giant came from Nowlan Park where a Leinster Championship match was contested between Kilkenny and Offaly. RTE’s coverage remained untouched, however TV3 (Now Virgin Media) lost out big time.
The move angered alot of fans at the time and has proved to be a massive point of contention amongst supporters throughout the years. The then GAA president Liam O’Neill defended the decision on programs such as Primetime and still maintains it was the best decision he made while in the role. From a financial perspective it is hard to argue with the man, especially considering the 2017 extension which was worth €55 million to the organisation.
While the deal did help bring the game to a wider audience and made RTE up the standard of their coverage, the move was wholly viewed as detrimental to the fans. The topic was hotly debated on the Sunday game with analysts arguing about the fact the amateur body was selling out its consumers. Many fans simply do not want to pay for access to a Sky subscription, something Liam O’Neill even admits he does not do to this day.
When discussing it is worthy to mention that RTE hosted all the games they would have shown anyway, it was the likes of Eir Sport and TV3 that lost out to the British behemoth. Even Eir Sport got to keep their National League coverage. Another worthy mention would be that attempts to stop the deal in congress failed due to just 15% of organisation opposing the agreement. So the astronomical value of the deal is something intercounty boards were very keen on.
Now with discussion around Amazon, does that help the organisation while hindering the fans at the same time once again? Amazon Prime dipped their toe in Premier League streaming and have been widely heralded for their service, with the sentiment being that fans want even more games to be showcased on the platform. It seems to be a much more cost effective measure then paying for a costly sports subscription for the likes of Sky and BT. However the fact that it is online only, will this further disenfranchise fans? Internet access and talks of broadband poverty thoughout the country could prove to be alot more troublesome for devout followers of the game.
You have to look at the immense popularity of of GAA Now and clubs streaming matches themselves last year and how valued it was by communities to appreciate the Amazon link being viewed as a positive. We have seen RTE up their game with the inclusion of Sky, and now that another player is on the market this can be viewed as healthy competition. From a financial perspective having another heavy hitter to deal with spells only good things for the GAA in a year when they reported big losses, with 2020 media revenue only €9.872m compared to the previous years €20.691m.
It’s an interesting development, one to cause much debate and discussion. Will the money benefit organisations throughout the country or will it all just end up with Dublin football anyway.
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