GAA/Sky: Armchair viewers can always get off their backsides and go to a match

Nice piece from Paddy Heaney on the GAA/Sky deal in the Irish News today (£)…

For the continued promotion of gaelic games, it remains extremely important that matches are aired on free-to-air television.

But let’s consider the amount of fixtures which are available on RTE and TG4. Under the new deal, RTE will show 31 Championship games. TG4 will show 62 live and 22 deferred games. That’s 93 live games.

Now, let’s examine the identity of your stereotypical armchair viewer.

John Keenan’s native county Derry represents an excellent case-study. The county has a population of roughly 250,000. Sunday’s home game against Kildare attracted a crowd of 2,429. That’s equates to less than one per cent of the population.

Using this formula, Dublin don’t fare much better. Saturday night’s attendance of approximately 22,000 in Croke Park might sound good. But Dublin is a city of nearly 1.5 million. That crowd represents about two per cent of the population.

The bottom line is the vast majority of television viewers never darken the turnstile of a GAA ground. They don’t pay into county games. They don’t support their clubs. They don’t pay club memberships. They contribute nothing.

Why are these people automatically entitled to watch every GAA game free-of-charge? Where is it written that all gaelic football and hurling matches must be broadcast on terrestrial channels?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty