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The epic clash of Tipperary and Cork was not shown on RTÉ at the weekend. Ben Brady/INPHO

Showing every match on RTÉ 'not realistic' - GAA responds to paywall backlash

The association has been heavily criticised for showing Munster hurling games on GAAGO instead of free-to-air television.

LAST UPDATE | 8 May 2023

THE GAA HAS responded to complaints regarding the coverage of championship matches streaming on GAAGO, saying that showing every game on RTÉ is “not realistic”.

The association was heavily criticised over the weekend after a thrilling encounter between Tipperary and Cork in the Munster SHC was aired on GAAGO instead of on free-to-air television, while there was also backlash last weekend when Clare’s incredible victory over Limerick was also streamed behind a paywall on GAAGO.

RTÉ’s Sunday schedule consisted instead of a provincial final double-header which saw Galway and Kerry capture the Connacht SFC and Munster SFC titles with emphatic wins.

Following a request from The 42, RTÉ revealed Galway v Sligo clocked an average audience of 136,000 (27% share), peaking at 200,000 viewers, while Kerry v Clare had an average audience of 262,000 (33%), peaking at 297,000 viwers. 

Hurling pundits Jackie Tyrrell and Dónal Óg Cusack echoed the criticism of the current broadcast coverage on The Sunday Game, with Cusack asking if RTE and the GAA are  “exploiting hurling”.

Táinaiste Micheál Martin said on Monday the arrangement “should be reviewed for the benefit of hurling itself”.

Speaking to The 42 today, the GAA’s Director of Communications Alan Milton explained that it is not possible to broadcast every game on RTÉ and that the GAA is making every possible effort to ensure fans are not alienated from enjoying the games.

“There are certain challenges for certain people but it’s worth making the point that if the [Tipp v Cork] game wasn’t on GAAGO on Saturday evening, it wouldn’t have been available anywhere. I’m not sure if people have thought about that.

“There’s a finite amount of games or slots on terrestrial TV that can show games. And this weekend just so happened to have two provincial finals. There will be plenty of hurling between now and the end of the season on free-to-air TV.

“GAAGO is bringing far more games to the public than was previously the case over the last broadcast arrangement.

“I think there’s an expectation out there that every game should be televised. That’s just not realistic. But I do think that the next best offering is that the games are streamed.”

Noel Quinn, the recently-appointed head of GAAGO, understands the public frustration towards subscription-based coverage, and said that they will always consider those complaints.

“Some of the information around Munster hurling championship matches has been lost in translation,” he began. “It’s helpful for me probably to put a few things straight.

“The Limerick v Clare one was a massive one, I was at that, it was amazing. The game itself, that was originally a Sunday slot, it was offered to RTÉ and taken by RTÉ. The Great Limerick Run came in that weekend and the match was moved to the Saturday. So rather than it not being broadcast, naturally GAAGO picked it up and we were more than happy to pick it up as well.

“And even last weekend, the Cork-Tipp one, with the Munster final on the Sunday, they weren’t going to play Cork-Tipp on a Sunday. Look, admittedly there will be some big games that go on GAAGO and not on free-to-air. And that’s just a fact of life, that’s just how subscription services go sometimes.”

He added that it is not their intention to restrict anyone’s access to games, and that special rates have been provided to cater for older fans.

“Look, we’re fully aware of some people saying that Munster hurling is behind a paywall. But we’ve literally tripled the number of games made available to those who are prepared probably to pay the €1.55 per game, if they bought it at the season pass rate. And there’s been a lot of positive reaction to it.

“Some of the commentary about exclusion, like, I doubt you’ll find too many associations that are as inclusive as the GAA so people will naturally pick on the few negative things.

“It is unfortunate for those people who might not be able to Chromecast or aren’t as savvy, but we see lots of anecdotal news of people helping neighbours out.

“The club pass at €150, a lot of people seem to be congregating to their local clubs to watch games there, and the care homes continue to get their passes free.

“So we are doing everything we can to address those concerns, so it will take a little bit of time and there’ll be pinch points along the way.

Both Milton and Quinn have both assured that there will be more hurling games available on free-to-air as the season progresses.

david-fitzgerald-and-seamus-flanagan The clash of Limerick and Clare was also shown on GAAGO. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“In terms of promotion of hurling,” says Quinn,” RTÉ will broadcast 15 hurling Championship matches over the course of the Championship. They have a couple of big Munster double-headers coming up. And at this stage there’s probably close to 200 games free to air anyway across the year. So we feel we have the balance right here.

“But look, it’s early days yet. Hopefully people will judge this on the multi-year deal that is in place, rather than the first couple of weekends.”

Written by Sinead Farrell and posted on with additional reporting by Jamie McCarron.

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