TG4 live GAA on the rise
Almost twice as many live GAA matches could be viewed on TG4 in 2011 than RTE, it has emerged, WRITES COLM KEYS.
The national broadcaster won't show a live GAA match from the All-Ireland football final in the third week of September until the second week of May next year.
But TG4 will strengthen their hand considerably in that time, with the majority of the 50-plus games that they broadcast coming in those months.
With county finals, provincial and All-Ireland club matches, two International Rules Tests, Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup games, National League finals, U-21 championships and four colleges finals, TG4 could see their current schedule of 51 games in 2010 increase to the mid-50s with the addition of midweek college games.
In the meantime, RTE's number of live GAA games has been reduced from 40 to 31.
All of those 31 games are championship fixtures and should attract the biggest GAA audiences for the year.
But the reduction in the number of live championship games being shown -- a decision taken by the GAA not RTE -- means that RTE will now broadcast fewer GAA games in 2011 than in either soccer or rugby.
With a Magners League package in place in addition to the Six Nations (15), November Internationals and AIL semi-finals and final, the number of rugby games being broadcast live will be close to 50 this season.
The number of Airtricity League matches will rise from 15 this year to 28 in 2012, and with FAI Cup semi-finals and final included, it will bring domestic soccer to over 30 games before internationals and Champions League games increase that figure further.
While the quality of games on RTE remains high, the quantity has suffered with the GAA's reduction in the number of championship games it has offered as part of the packages recently sold.
The increase in the number of rugby and soccer matches being broadcast by RTE by comparison to Gaelic games will alarm the GAA, even if the majority of their games are being broadcast by TG4, who also deliver 20 ladies games.