As RTÉ and GAA stream worldwide, Govt to review TV sports coverage

16 Jun 2014

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte is planning a review of TV coverage of designated sporting events. The news comes as both RTÉ and GAA’s GAAGO online streaming service has begun bringing live and on-demand GAA games to a global audience.

On Friday night the GAA and RTÉ’s new subscription-based streaming service offering live and on-demand GAA games to audiences worldwide went live starting with the 2014 GAA championships.

The streaming service is now available to purchase, following the culmination of a month-long free trial on RTÉ Player.

Games will be streamed in high-quality HD to computers, smartphones and tablet devices and will include full commentary, scores, and studio programming as broadcast to audiences in Ireland.

“During the initial four-week free-to-view promotional period, the matches have been watched by tens of thousands of fans across every continent in the world,” said Muirne Laffan, managing director of RTÉ Digital.

“Everywhere from California to Canberra, GAA fans have been enjoying the new reality of being able to watch the games live and on-demand on any internet enabled device, no matter where they are.”

The launch of the GAAGO online streaming service follows a significant shake-up of how the GAA has awarded game coverage rights. In April the GAA announced that Sky would replace TV3 as rights holders for the All-Ireland championships, with 14 exclusive games including two All-Ireland football quarter finals. The deal included the All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and finals live on a shared basis with RTE.

RTÉ remains the dominant rights holder with access to 31 games, including all six provincial finals, two hurling and football quarter-finals, four All-Ireland semi-finals and both finals.

“Today represents another important step towards the completion of our media rights for the period 2014-2017 and most notably the global aspect of those arrangements,” said Peter McKenna, GAA commercial and stadium director.

“In recent weeks GAA members and supporters around the globe have been able to view our games through the medium of the RTÉ Player and this weekend the commencement of GAAGO starts in earnest on its own specially designed platform,” McKenna said.

GAA shake-up rights under review


Also on Friday, Rabbitte said he intended to hold a public consultation on what designated sporting events should be free-to-air in terms of their cultural or societal importance.

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may designate sporting and cultural events as being of major importance to society and that events so designated should be available on a free-to-air television service.

“It is important that national events which are of great significance to Ireland be shown free to air and be available for us all to enjoy,” Rabbitte said.

“I would urge all interested parties and members of the public to submit their views to my Department, which I will ensure are considered and will assist me in making my decision.”

The events designated for review include:


·       The Summer Olympics

·       The All-Ireland Senior Inter-County Football & Hurling Finals

·       Ireland’s home and away qualifying games in the European Football Championship & the FIFA World Cup Tournaments

·       Ireland’s games in the European Football Championship Finals Tournament and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

·       The opening games, the semi-finals and final of the European Football Championship Finals and the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament

·       Ireland’s games in the Rugby World Cup Finals Tournament

·       The Irish Grand National and the Irish Derby

·       The Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse Show


·       Ireland’s games in the Six Nations Rugby Football Championship

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years