Contracts for 2014 to 2016 will likely be finalised in November with Setanta believed to have more capital than previous rounds of tenders.
Setanta Ireland have shown Saturday evening National League fixtures since 2005 with extra NFL games also being televised on their subscription channel since 2011.
“We have loved showing Allianz Leagues GAA over the past few seasons and are always keen to grow our rights and deliver more content to our customer base as our recent deal with BT Sport and ESPN demonstrated,” said the company’s marketing operations director Brian Quinn.
RTÉ’s decision to do away with their Premier League Saturday night highlights programme may open up the possibility of stronger bids for Championship matches and possibly National League games.
They currently broadcast 31 Championship games with TV3 showing nine, although the independent broadcasters are enjoying a fine summer, showing both Munster hurling semi-finals, last Saturday’s Kilkenny-Tipperary qualifier and this weekend’s Kilkenny-Waterford game.
They will also have coverage of Sunday week’s Connacht and Ulster football finals, meaning RTÉ won’t be showing a live game that afternoon.
It is a surprising decision by RTE who last year controversially elected to broadcast the Saturday All-Ireland quarter-final between Dublin and Laois over the Donegal-Kerry game and as a result had no live game on the first Sunday in August.
TG4 have the rights for club, college, U21 football and hurling games as well as Sunday National League games. The GAA are putting particular emphasis on international broadcasting rights this year with Liam O’Neill saying in 2012: “If the GAA are going to grow abroad it will have to be done through television.”
With the international rights have been sold on by the successful bidder in 2010, Croke Park are going into this round of negotiations with their eyes wide open. O’Neill also said the GAA intend making games accessible to families abroad rather than them having to go to pubs to watch them.
“We’ll have to be innovative, we have people looking at it, it is going to be our big challenge. I would put the broadcasting of games and publicisation of our games ahead a little bit of finance in this one. We might have to take a hit on it but whatever gets the games out is important to us.”