The Allianz national leagues recommence this weekend, as do U20 GAA Championships. Exciting times ahead for the GAA supporter. Now is the time to plan in advance, get your living rooms ready for what is set to be a busy period ahead of watching GAA.
Let’s not forget to figure out what games we want to watch, and more importantly HOW we are going to watch them. With the recent announcement that all non-televised GAA games will be streamed online with GAA GO (in Ireland), it’s time to take a look at the financial side of watching GAA games in 2020.
GAA streaming services
By now many of you will be familiar with streaming services which provided novel opportunities to watch our club county championships. This was the first time that most club games were brought to a wider audience and was an excellent service due to the limited capacities at matches. There wasn’t much fuss about paying a fiver to watch your local club in action. Or indeed, perhaps you bought a weekend pass allowing you to watch several games all in one place. Well, watching games all in one place is not going to be possible for the upcoming inter-county slate of fixtures.
Over the coming weeks, matches are spread out across numerous different platforms, and having access to these will be extremely challenging for most GAA fans. Of course, we have TG4 who provide an excellent service who are set to broadcast numerous games in the coming weeks. Add to that on matches RTÉ, Eir Sport, Sky Sports and a new face to fans in Ireland – GAA GO. Matches on RTÉ and TG4 are free-to-air when you pay the €160 licence fee and available to the entire population. Eir Sport and Sky Sports are obviously not free which is to the displeasure of some fans. But as GAA GO provides access to every non-televised GAA match its worth taking a look at this new service.
€65 this weekend alone to watch all matches on GAAGO
For the first time, all inter-county GAA games are available on one platform or another, which is great news. But there is quite a significant cost involved. On GAA go it will cost you €5 for every single game you watch. There are 13 games exclusively on GAA GO this weekend. To watch all of those live or in retrospect would cost you €65. Granted, it is unlikely that anyone would want to watch 13 games from one weekend, but you may want to watch 3 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. That’s still €25. Repeat that over the next eight or nine weeks and we are talking €200 to €500.
As is always the case, most of the big games will be on RTÉ/TG4 with the exception being Monaghan vs Kerry this weekend. So, what we have here is the so-called weaker counties having to pay a premium to watch their team in action. Yes, it is great to be able to watch all games and there is still money to be saved by not travelling to games. But it is not a balanced system and it favours some more than others.
A weekend pass should be introduced on GAA GO, in which it provides access to all games across a weekend for a fraction of the price. Say €10-15? People probably won’t buy any more than 3 or 4 games per weekend at €5, so this would encourage viewers to tune in more and represents better value.
Per Month – Sky Sports €30 Eir Sports €30
Many viewers were not happy with the introduction of Sky Sports a few years back. However, a Sky Sports package costs €360 annually which amounts to €6.92 per week. This provides access to GAA championship games plus extensive coverage of numerous other sports. Not terrible value when all is considered, although, it is a further expense if we wanted to see every match. Eir Sports will be showing matches for the next two weeks and that comes in at another €30
To be clear, I for one am extremely excited and grateful at the prospect of watching every single game if I wish. It is excellent that we have the opportunity to do so, particularly for weaker counties who rarely get to see their team on TV. With the loss of ticket revenue, the GAA must balance the books somehow, as they are right to do. But the cost of these games could become a little excessive on the supporter’s pocket, with no weekend or longer term deals available.