Colm Parkinson: Why do the GAA sell rights to RTÉ when this is the product they offer?
I was lucky enough to witness Laois’ best performance in years in Wexford Park on Saturday night.
The atmosphere was incredible, understandably after such a dramatic comeback.
The game had everything - the stirring 10-point comeback, three goals, two penalties awarded, one penalty tapped over the bar, one unbelievably not given, extra time, cornerback equaliser and Laois goalkeeper Graham Brody popping up all over the place.
We even saw a welcome/unwelcome return of our Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois, Laois chant.
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) May 15, 2018
In total there was around 85 minutes of action but how much of this classic game - a game those in attendance were lucky to witness - did we see on The Sunday Game highlights show?
2 minutes 27 seconds is how much.
Not only was it a miserable amount of highlights that couldn't do the game justice, it was shot on one camera from the top of the small terrace. It wasn't much higher than pitch level - even a low budget operation like Wexford GAA TV use a higher vantage point in the stand for their club games.
The Sunday Game started at 9.30pm and we had to wait until 9.36pm to get into the action as we sat through Des doing an intro in an empty studio similar to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show, a montage of the disruption the winter weather caused unrelated games in the league, another montage relating to the championship and then another intro from Des in studio. Around six minutes in total the intro to the show took while the Laois-Wexford highlights lasted 2 minutes 27 seconds.
Why do the GAA sell rights to RTÉ when this is the product they give GAA fans around the country?
When the TV broadcasting rights are up for tender, TV companies have to pitch for the business. We know the financial offer is very important but I know from my time in Newstalk the GAA ask for new ideas and what package is on offer as well as the financial offer. Just before I decided to leave Newstalk, they were meeting to discuss innovative ideas in an attempt secure the radio rights.
I’m not privy to the TV discussions but I can’t imagine RTÉ pitch for business telling the GAA they will send one camera to a Leinster quarter-final, set it up on the top of a low terrace and then only show 2 minutes and 27 seconds on their exclusive highlights programme.
I can’t understand how the GAA stand for this and why they don’t insist on a midweek highlights show during the championship being a requirement for securing the rights. Sky have the rights for the Premier League and would almost sicken you with the amount of related shows they have and how they sell it. GAA fans have nothing during the championship and, for me, it's not good enough.
RTÉ’s daytime football panel of O’Rourke, Brolly and Spillane, three men who haven't played the game in 20 years or more, spend most of their time running it down, telling us that they didn’t ‘enjoy' the game - like anyone watching really gives a shit whether they enjoyed it or not.
In their spare time, they complain about Sky getting the rights to broadcast the games and how they should be free to air. Wouldn’t that be great - more games for RTÉ to send one camera to.
On the BBC, Match of the Day base their running order on what game was most exciting that day. Gary Lineker tweets the running order out in advance to much excitement and debate from fans seeing their team deservedly up or down the order.
The Sunday game seem to be stuck in a rut showing extended highlights of the main game that day regardless of how good it was. Even if it was a classic, what GAA fan needs to see extended highlights of that game when the majority of us passionate fans have either watched on TV or watched it live.
It doesn’t make any sense.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) May 13, 2018
This is highlighted even further when the main game was a defensive arm-wrestle type like the one in Castlebar at the weekend. But I suppose how could RTÉ prioritise Laois-Wexford on The Sunday Game when they only sent one camera and pitched it on the top of the terrace?
RTÉ only pay for live rights to GAA championship games, we know that. There's a massive eight months of the year when we see no GAA on our national broadcaster. None.
I was told from a source in RTÉ they can’t afford any more than that. If they want to show league games they have to compromise their championship bid because of budget constraints. That’s incredible when I, like everyone else, recently paid 167 euros for my licence fee and, added to the licence fee, they make huge amounts from advertising revenue on TV and radio. There were even four two-minute ads on the online player when i was checking the times of the highlights. And RTÉ management now want to increase the licence fee.
I watch nothing on RTÉ except sport but they have lost their rights for a lot of sport now and I have to pay for a Sky and BT subscription as well to see what I want.
If RTÉ are struggling financially, which seems to be the case, maybe the GAA rights would be better sold to another free to air station. The GAA championship is the jewel in the crown of the sporting calendar and it should be promoted and given the coverage it deserves.
We know Declan McBennett has been appointed as head of sport in RTÉ recently. We also know he is a big GAA man and is highly thought of in there so there's hope for them yet because, with TV3 willing to invest, there could be interesting times ahead when the rights are up again. The sky didn’t fall in when TV3 got the rugby rights and it wouldn't if they got the GAA rights either.