Sunday 18 August 2019

'We want to be at the forefront of innovation' - Camogie Association looking to reach new audiences

10 September 2017; Anna Farrell of Kilkenny in action against Amy O'Connor of Cork during the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final match between Cork and Kilkenny at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
10 September 2017; Anna Farrell of Kilkenny in action against Amy O'Connor of Cork during the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Camogie Final match between Cork and Kilkenny at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

The Camogie Association are looking at a number of different options as to how they can reach new audiences after a successful 2016 season that saw the association see increases in television viewers, fans attending games and social media followers.

The Liberty Insurance Camogie All Stars will head for Madrid on Wednesday as part of the inaugural Camogie All Stars tour, which will see the 2016 and 2017 Liberty Insurance All Star winners face off in an exhibition match in XV Hortaleza Rugby Club, on Thursday November 30th, as the association looks to continue to bring the game to new audiences.

However, on a domestic front, the game continues to grow among television audiences as well as social media users.

Figures published in the 2016 Ard Stiúrthóir's report show there was an 8% increase in peak tv viewing figures for the All-Ireland Camogie final in 2016, from 305,000 in 2015 to 328,000 in 2016.

Meanwhile an average of 216,400 viewers tuned into the live coverage of both the intermediate and senior final, representing a 26% share of the market. These increases were assisted by an improved schedule of live matches and highlights packages both online and on television by the association in 2016.

“The whole orientation of the national development plan is to strengthen the sport, on and off the pitch, and then to continue to grow the sport in the public eye as well,” said Joan O’Flynn, CEO of the Camogie Association.

“On the pitch, we want to put the sport front and centre and to ensure that it is played at the highest standard that it possibly can, and then making sure that there’s an adequate games programme at all levels, from club up to Junior County.

“Our games are very, very unique and they offer a huge amount in terms of skill, a huge amount in terms of athleticism, a huge amount in terms of sporting entertainment so we want to have as many people as possible to go and enjoy that.

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“Clearly, that means putting the games into a bigger public space and in particular, the games were broadcast live last year.

“This year the knockout stages of the senior championship were broadcast live so having the sport available for viewing on mainstream television has been a wonderful enhancement for the sport in terms of bringing it to wider spectators.

“Bringing the game to a bigger audience builds player recognition, brings a bigger interest in the game and then alongside that there’s increased attendances at the games as well.

“The All-Ireland final is the shop window but alongside that we’ve also had increased attendances at our semi-finals and our quarter-finals.”

O’Flynn also notes that the association has been experimenting with live streaming games and looking at alternative models of content distribution.

This year the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship Final and National League games were both streamed live online.

The Camogie Association has also commissioned and encouraged county boards to develop their own highlight packages to promote the game internally and across their own social media networks.

The association insists that television remains their desired outlet to reach new audiences but that it is imperative that they consider new ways to grow the game.

“The way we consume sport is certainly dynamic at the moment and it’s changing all the time,” added O’Flynn.

“The capacity and the capability of the technology is changing and through that we’re able to broaden the audience through social media. We want to stay in touch with those developments and we want to be at the forefront of innovation.

"We're open to considering any platform that we think can help grow and develop our game."

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