Wexford break new ground with free-to-air TV broadcast
Sky Sports' move into the GAA market has caused a stir, but while they take their cameras to Wexford Park tomorrow, the local county board is making its own historic move into television tonight.
Wexford GAA TV will break new ground by broadcasting a half-hour show on 'free-to-air' satellite television, which those involved believe is a forerunner to the GAA eventually setting up its own television channel.
Former county hurlers Tom Dempsey and Rory McCarthy, as well as seven-time camogie All Star Kate Kelly and local ladies' football star Leona Tector will be the presenters and interviewers on Wexford's new magazine-style show.
It is being broadcast at 10.0 on the Showcase 2 channel, which can be found on Channel 192 on the Sky platform and on FreeSat Channel 402.
Many county boards are now streaming club games on their websites and this whole area is growing fast in GAA circles. However, Wexford are the first to take it even further on to the worldwide marketing stream of satellite television.
County PRO Rory Murphy believes that if other counties follow suit, it could eventually wind up with the GAA having its own television channel.
"It makes sense down the road," Murphy said. "The media world has moved on, people now use social media and YouTube to follow the games and there is no longer just one television channel like RTé showing Gaelic games.
"The Sky deal shows how the broadcasting marketplace has suddenly opened up for the GAA. If all counties were able to provide the GAA with a half-hour package in future, there would be plenty of material there for the GAA to use on its own television channel."
Having its own television channel in the future is believed to be a marketing tool that the GAA is already looking at.
Murphy said Wexford have made the ground-breaking move for two reasons.
"Firstly, we hope to make revenue from the advertising," he said. "Already that looks like it will be successful as we've had several people looking to get involved with advertising on the programme.
"Secondly, it's a way to create interest for Wexford GAA, a new way to broaden our own scope and reach. We've been using YouTube for the past year to broadcast clips, this is simply taking it on to the next level."
Satellite broadcasters like Channel 192 have two ways of charging users: either a flat fee, or else they take the advertising revenue from a programme or a percentage of it.
Murphy said they have done "a good deal," but said he could not say what it is "for commercial reasons."
The team behind Wexford's new TV show includes Lar Sutton and Joe Carroll. Sutton's Irish Sport TV already produces programmes for a range of sports nationally, including horse racing and show jumping and it was where Sky Sports presenter and Irish Independent columnist Rachel Wyse first cut her broadcasting teeth.
With the broadcasting rights to major championships already owned by big TV channels, Wexford cannot show match content, but Murphy feels there will be opportunities to expand in future.
"TG4 have the rights to the club championships, but they've only twice come to Wexford, so we feel that there will be possibilities in that area in the future," he said.
"At the moment, our show will have a magazine format, rather like TG4's 'Seo Sport' and luckily there is a lot going on in Wexford GAA at the moment.
"Our ladies footballers contested an All-Ireland final last year, our camogie team are our most successful, our footballers are lined up to play Dublin, our minor hurlers are playing Dublin tomorrow week and our U-21 hurlers have reached the Leinster semi-final against Westmeath. That's giving us plenty to discuss and review and we're hoping to broadcast our second show in two weeks' time."