Saturday 14 December 2019

'Irrational' Sky deal criticism will fade when benefits seen – McKenna

GAA Commercial Director Peter McKenna
GAA Commercial Director Peter McKenna
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

GAA commercial director Peter McKenna has described some of the criticism of the GAA's deal with Sky Sports as "irrational" and believes that when the overall package, which also includes much wider TV access to Irish people living abroad, works its way through this season the benefits will become apparent.

"It's something like Rule 42. Many people were opposed to opening Croke Park to rugby and soccer but once it happened, the advantages quickly became clear," he said.

"What we've done with the new TV deal is to move ever so slightly in a different direction, but for all the right reasons.

"Obviously people will react to change but we've got to keep things in perspective. Almost 100 games will still be available free to air on RTE and TG4 every year."

McKenna believes that Sky will add an exciting new dimension to championship coverage, and rejects claims that the GAA has sold out to the new arrival.

"Sky have exclusive access to 14 games only – it's not as if they have everything. They will bring their own brand of innovation to covering hurling and football, which will be very interesting.

"I would ask people to give it a chance. We have struck a deal which we believe to be in the GAA's best overall interest."

TV3 were the big losers in the new arrangement, forced out by Sky Sports after six years as RTE's junior partner for championship coverage.

Despite a TV3 statement which claimed that their bid had "been superseded by the GAA's preference for a pay television strategy", McKenna said the station had been gracious.

"The hardest thing in the whole process was that we couldn't find a slot for TV3," he said. The new package is believed to be worth around €32m over three years.

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