GAA Urged to Rethink its Decision to Put Live Games Behind a Paywall

The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has been urged to reconsider its decision to put live matches behind a paywall next year.

GAAGO will exclusively stream 38 GAA hurling and football championship games in 2024 – a move which has been widely criticised since it was announced.

Three-time All-Ireland champion Donal Og Cusack was particularly vocal, telling RTE News the decision could prove to be hugely damaging to hurling in Ireland.

“We have said for many years that hurling needs growth – hurling needs oxygen,” Cusack said. “This does nothing for the promotion of hurling.

“One of the purposes of the GAA is surely to grow the game of hurling? In its duty, as it has acted as a steward over many years, it has failed in that role.

“There are also question marks for RTE. As a public service body, surely one of their duties is to promote a cultural asset like hurling? They are failing to do that with this deal also.

“Someone in Croke Park and someone in Montrose thought it was a good idea to make a small amount of profit next year, or a perceived profit in the future, on the back of hurling and it does nothing for the game.

“The government should come into this and take a serious look because I believe both institutions are not doing their duty in this case.”

Labour sports spokesperson Mark Wall also waded into the row by claiming that moving championship games behind a paywall will drive people away from GAA events.

He raised concerns about the impact on older fans, with studies showing that around 30 percent of this demographic are not online or are digitally illiterate.

“It’s a shame that the GAA has decided to put so many matches behind a paywall again this year.,” Wall said. “It’s bad for the fans and it’s bad for the game.

“The joy of the GAA is that you can flick on the telly at home and catch super professional games from the comfort of your own home.

“Everyone who loves the GAA, and particularly older people, love following the championship and keeping up to date with who’s in contention.

“Siphoning off the GAA from the wider population is just a mistake. I would urge the GAA to rethink its decision and move games back to free to air on RTE or TG4.”

While critics haven quick to hit out at the GAA’s decision to move games behind a paywall, the organisation’s Director of Communications Alan Milton has defended the move.

The GAA is heavily reliant on revenues from media organisations and other sponsors, and Milton claims it would not be good business practice to give away the rights for free.

Moving games behind a paywall gives the GAA the opportunity to forge stronger links with the online gambling industry, as firms in the sector will be eager to leverage the captive audience there.

The best GAA betting sites already offer a wide range of markets on GAA competitions, but may ramp up their involvement in Gaelic sports now live championship games are on an exclusive platform.

Milton said the additional revenue generated by putting games behind a paywall will help to fund the GAA’s ongoing plans to expand across Ireland.

He noted that 85 percent of games in 2024 will remain free-to-air, which will give fans plenty of opportunity to watch their favourite teams during the season.

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