The media vie for the GAA rights

At present most of the television and radio organisations operating in this country are feeling a little anxious as the GAA considers the responses it has received to its recent tender for the media rights for games.

At present most of the television and radio organisations operating in this country are feeling a little anxious as the GAA considers the responses it has received to its recent tender for the media rights for games.

Media rights contacts tend to be of three-year duration. Like the last time the contract was negotiated some new media organisations are emerging. All of this should be good news for the GAA.

Not too long ago media rights negotiations only took place with RTE, simply because no other company had the interest or the resources to meet the GAA’s expectations. TG4 has had a long involvement with the GAA but its involvement focuses only on the National League and club championships.

In recent times TV3 and Setanta Sports have come on board and provided genuine competition to RTE for TV coverage. Newstalk was successful on the last occasion in relation to radio coverage. Local radio outlets are not part of the primary contract.

From a GAA perspective the interest shown by many media outlets is very positive and helps to increase the value of the product being offered. However, despite the big interest in Gaelic games by multiple media outlets, we are in very different economic times than we were some years ago.

Irrespective of who is awarded a contract from the new tendering process, the end result for the GAA will be a good one, albeit more than likely less lucrative than similar contracts over the past decade. The inclusion of Setanta Sports in recent contacts was a major decision by the GAA as it signed up with a pay per view outlet for the first time.

The involvement of Setanta Sports has principally focused on the National Leagues but they also show championship games from the previous weekend from the middle of the following week.

Some concern was expressed at the GAA’s relationship with Setanta Sports but this appears to be no longer an issue. More and more Irish households have access to pay per view TV services so the matter is probably less contentious than it was some years ago.

This time, though, it may be different because Sky Sports has submitted a bid for some areas of Gaelic games coverage. Of all the bidders now none possess the resources of Sky Sports.

Those resources are more than just financial because it is their technical input which must be exciting many in the GAA. In addition, the opportunity to broadcast Gaelic games to a UK audience is also an important consideration.

Like Setanta Sports years ago, there will be opposition to awarding any Gaelic games contract to Sky Sports.

The Rupert Murdoch owned organisation will not get the primary contract this time, but I expect that Sky Sports will be a GAA media partner in some capacity in 2014.

The dilemma for the GAA is getting the financial rewards from the new contract, while at the same time ensuring maximum exposure across all successful media partners. One area receiving significant attention is international media rights.

Setanta Sports has been providing a global service to GAA enthusiasts but now technological developments is affording the GAA an opportunity to consider other partners. The growing Irish Diaspora has created a huge market for Gaelic games and with it an enhanced opportunity for the GAA to generate additional revenue.

The GAA is conscious that the growth in what is termed smart devices is also creating new opportunities to show games or just highlights. This is also opening new revenue streams.

From a GAA perspective the current media rights negotiations will yield a positive outcome.