Galway hurling committee chairman Paul Bellew has called on the GAA to review their media policy whereby counties cannot live stream club fixtures at the same time as RTÉ and TG4 are broadcasting a county championship game.
With TG4 set to broadcast county championship games each Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, and RTÉ occupying the Saturday evening slot, county boards are severely restricted as to when they can provide a live streaming service.
Although Croke Park earlier this summer encouraged county boards to monetise their county championships through live streaming, they also informed county board officers there could be financial penalties if club games were live-streamed simultaneously with matches being broadcast nationally by rights holders.
The GAA’s position is that streaming games at the same time as national broadcasts would dilute the rights holders’ coverage.
But on foot of the Government’s decision not to increase outdoor crowd limits to 500 from next Monday, Galway hurling chairman Bellew believes the GAA media policy should be reviewed and that counties should be allowed live stream at the same time as RTÉ and TG4 are showing a game.
The current limit of 200, in place until at least August 10, means “no more than 30 supporters per club” can attend Galway championship games which throw-in the weekend after next.
“Given the Government’s decision, one thing we would be asking is for the GAA to seriously look at their media policy which states that you can't go up against the live RTÉ and TG4 game,” said Bellew.
“That policy really negates the number of games we can stream given peak times for matches will clash with televised games. You'd really be hoping that is something they'd look at so as to give all counties live streaming games a little bit of leeway.
“In our senior hurling championship, Loughrea play Tommy Larkin's on Friday evening week. Kilmallock versus Na Piarsaigh in the Limerick SHC is live on TG4 at the same time so we can't stream Loughrea versus Tommy Larkin's, which would draw a significant audience for us within the county.
“I obviously understand the repercussions that has for the TG4 agreement and we are delighted to have TG4 for Sarsfields-Portumna on Sunday week, but this has got to the point now where we are going to have club members who can't see their own club in action. If there was some element of leeway given, we'd be able to facilitate more games via live streaming.
Galway GAA, in partnership with Nemeton TV and Galway Bay FM, will live stream three hurling games on the weekend of July 25/26.
To watch one game will cost viewers €6, €10 for two games, and €15 for three games.
Breaking down how the 200 capacity would be filled, Bellew explained that after players, management staff, club officials, stewards, media, inter-county management, sponsors, and Galway GAA committee members had been accounted for, between 25-30 tickets would be made available to the two competing clubs for purchase.
Galway took in more from gate receipts - €977k (€619k from hurling games) - than any other county in 2019. Bellew said the decision not to increase the numbers permitted at an outdoor gathering was a significant financial setback.
“Financially, it is a significant setback, with big implications for later in the year, for preparing inter-county teams. There are no two ways about it. The gates in Galway are our highest form of income, disproportionately so to every other county.”