Wednesday 24 January 2018

GAA consider reducing live TV coverage as over-exposure fears grow

Paraic Duffy during the GAA Annual Congress 2015
Paraic Duffy during the GAA Annual Congress 2015
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The GAA may cut back on the number of live games shown on TV as fears grow that it's lowering attendance figures.

Director general Paraic Duffy told the opening session of Congress last night that discussing the Sky Sports deal was missing the point at a time when a more fundamental review of TV coverage was required.

Not that there was much discussion on Sky. None of the 320 delegates raised a dissenting voice, which was surprising.

Clare had expressed annoyance when their motion on the Sky deal didn't make it on to the Congress agenda but made no comment when the opportunity arose during consideration of Duffy's report.

Nobody else complained about the Sky deal either, leaving the main contribution to come from Lancashire secretary Fergal Kiernan, who welcomed it as a positive development.

Duffy defended the Sky deal before going on to question whether too many games were screened 'live'.

"We will show around 100 games live this year. Is that too much?" he asked.

Stabilised

"Championship attendances are down on 10 years ago and while they have stabilised in recent years, we have to ask if we're doing the right thing by showing two championship games live every Sunday during the summer.

"With the quality of TV production improving all the time, it's attractive to sit at home and watch two games.

"Live TV coverage is good for us but it's vital to get the balance right between offering too much and encouraging people to stay at home or showing less and attracting them to the games."

There will no change over the next two years but Duffy said that TV coverage was an issue that should be closely examined before the next rights deal kicks in for the 2017 season.

Rounding on critics who claim the GAA are overly concerned with raising finance, he said that putting every euro earned back into the Association for the good of its members was always the sole ambition.

"Anyone who says otherwise is peddling a lie," he said.

Prior to the opening of Congress, there was good news for Wexford hurlers when Andrew Shore had his 48-week suspension lifted. He incurred the ban late last year for playing in Britain while ineligible but was cleared to play with immediate effect by the Reinstatements Committee.

Today will be a huge occasion for Aogan O Fearghaill, who will begin his three-year term as GAA President. He is the first Cavan man to hold the honour.

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