GAA hint at hopes of renewing TV subscription deal for 2017

GAA hint at hopes of renewing TV subscription deal for 2017

GAA director general Paraic Duffy has indicated that the Association are keen to prolong their relationship with subscription broadcasters beyond 2016.

Sky Sports bought the rights to show 14 inter-county GAA games per season in 2014, a deal which included two All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals, but the agreement is set to expire at the end of this year’s campaign.

However, the move attracted heavy criticism upon the governing body as inter-county GAA games have traditionally been free-to-air in Ireland, and several motions opposing another deal are set to be heard at the Annual Congress in Carlow next month.

In his annual report, which was released on Tuesday, Duffy stressed that the number of games shown on Irish terrestrial television will not be reduced from the 114 (live or on full deferred coverage) shown in 2015.

However, he did hint that by excluding subscription channels – such as Sky and Setanta – from the bidding process for the rights to broadcast games the GAA would be significantly undervaluing their product.

He wrote: "Any restriction that prohibits the GAA from engaging with all interested parties, including subscription TV providers, would seriously reduce our negotiating power and thus our ability to achieve the true worth of our assets, and would inevitably lead to a greatly reduced media-rights income.

"In what is already a small pool of potential broadcast partners, we must ensure the existence of a genuine market for our games and maintain the option of engaging with all interested parties, regardless of whether they are free-to-air or subscription providers.

"This flexibility and freedom is crucial if we are to nurture a competitive tender process and thus ensure that the GAA achieves the proper value for its rights.

"Ultimately these broadcast revenues represent an important funding source for the work of the Association and its units."

The GAA reportedly rejected a more lucrative offer from TV3 in 2014 in order to bring hurling and Gaelic football to a wider audience in Britain with Sky.