Supporters will be charged €59 for subscribing to this season’s League of Ireland’s WatchLOI streaming service.
The FAI is also to introduce a new LOITV project streaming all matches across the First Division and the women’s national league.
With the Premier Division campaign due to kick off on March 19, and matches to be played without supporters until the summer at the earliest, fans will have to watch their teams online. A free-to-air offering will be available for the President’s Cup final between Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk a week earlier.
The streaming service, run in conjunction with RTÉ, was first introduced when the FAI resumed the 2020 season last July following the Covid-19 enforced four-month hiatus.
While the FAI were reluctant to divulge figures for subscriptions, then interim chief executive Gary Owens admitted the uptake was "disappointingly low". It transpired that just 11,000 customers had paid for the service, less than half of them purchasing the season-long pass marketed at €55 for 55 games.
Clubs were today informed of the latest details by League Director Mark Scanlon and Commercial Director Mark Russell which cover all Premier Division matches up to the mid-season break at the end of May.
The “Kick-Off Pass” will be pitched at €59 for 62 matches, with the option of purchasing per match remaining intact at €5. Clubs will be entitled to buy the season tickets for €15 in a bid to subsidise patrons forking out for their own in-house version.
The FAI have committed to a €55,000 marketing budget for the project and have set a 15% target for increasing sales on last year.
As RTÉ sport will have the pick of matches to televise, they are covering the production costs. Profits will be shared among Premier clubs, forecasted at an average of €5,172 from an overall return of €86,465. The final divvy will be determined by the portion of subscribers associated with each club.
Unlike last year’s debut venture, when criticism was attracted for the absence of punditry around matches, co-commentators are to become a staple. Improved graphics have been promised too.
The FAI have also expressed a desire to translate discussions with potential sponsors into a full partnership, which would have the effect of defraying the platform fees. They have dropped by €200 to €1,600 plus VAT per match.
The First Division schedule is being introduced into the streaming landscape for this year but is presented to punters as a standalone package to punters, with prices yet to be unveiled.
Although the top-flight matches will continue to be covered by the state broadcaster’s Super High Definition (SHD) cameras, artificial intelligence is being tested in the First Division and women’s league.
The Pixellot system uses AI with unmanned HD cameras to deliver a top-quality viewing experience with the cameras used in many leagues across the world, including Scotland.
Should this format be deemed a success, it is expected to expand and encompass the second half of the Premier Division and FAI Cup schedule. Subscribers will be offered renewal deals at that stage.
Meanwhile, Stephen Kenny is on the verge of appointing a successor to his departed assistant Damien Duff.
It’s believed the Ireland manager has succeeded in enticing a candidate into the role but negotiations between the FAI and the new arrival's current employer are ongoing.
First-choice Lee Carsley opted to remain with the English FA and John O’Shea was unwilling at this point to sacrifice his job-share between Reading and Ireland’s U21s. They will face Wales in a friendly in Wrexham on Friday March 26, two days after Kenny’s opening World Cup qualifier in Serbia.