RTÉ chief McBennett defends GAAGO and says 'there has never been more free-to-air sport'

RTÉ chief McBennett defends GAAGO and says 'there has never been more free-to-air sport'

RTÉ's Group Head of Sport, Declan McBennett, has defended the GAA's subscription platform, GAAGO, after the platform came under fire from all corners of the media this weekend and last.

The service, which is a joint venture with RTE and the GAA, has come under fire for its pay-per-view model and for being the only place to see high-profile games.

The platform had the Cork and Tipperary Munster SHC game and the Clare and Limerick match on its platform for a subscription fee, but the games were not accessible by traditional terrestrial TV stations like RTE.

Sky Sports had its own deal with the GAA, but that contract ended, which allowed GAAGO to take the bulk of the games from its English counterpart.

A number of high-profile people in Ireland have offered their take on the issue, including the likes of The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, and former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack.

McBennett, speaking on RTÉ Radio’s News At One, offered clarity on the situation on Tuesday and explained that the Great Limerick Run had an impact on the Limerick-Clare game.

"The reality of it is we did Cork-Waterford and we’ve done Limerick (-Waterford) so far in terms of RTÉ. The Limerick-Clare game was initially scheduled for Sunday, and that was an RTÉ game.

"Due to circumstances in Limerick, which were entirely outside of the control of certainly RTÉ and I imagine the GAA (Great Limerick Run), that game was moved to Saturday and hence went to GAAGO.

RTÉ picked up Cork-Waterford. Now, Cork-Waterford, unfortunately, did not meet the iconic status of the Limerick-Clare game, but that’s the nature of sport. If we knew the results before the games."

Despite the backlash, McBennett has defended GAAGO and claimed there has never been a more free-to-air sport. “We’re doing that, and we’re doing that across rugby, soccer, and GAA, where there has never been a more free-to-air sport," said the GAAGO board member.

“We will be doing Clare v Cork and Limerick v Tipperary in two weeks’ time (May 21) when GAAGO will be doing the key football matches which have emerged, which will be Kerry v Mayo and Galway v Tyrone (May 20).”