RTÉ are expected to once again make a move for the live Saturday Allianz League match package in the forthcoming round of 2017-2019 media rights negotiations.
Eir Sport, formerly Setanta Sports, have held the Saturday evening rights since 2005 and the present All-Ireland senior football championship sponsors are seeking a bigger slice of the pie on this occasion, with championship tranches chiefly on their radar.
In 2014, RTÉ were keen on the spring floodlit games but the GAA opted to remain with the subscription-based channel. Eir now offer free access to customers who sign up to their broadband deal.
RTÉ haven’t ruled out challenging TG4 for their long-held Sunday league slots either, as they seem ready to address the situation of having no live Gaelic games on screen from October to April, this year being a rare exception because of Saturday’s All-Ireland final replay.
The national broadcaster, though, is more determined to get their hands on the Saturday package, which has become significantly more attractive in recent seasons.
Earlier this year, Eir/Setanta showed six of the Dublin footballers’ seven Division 1 round games. In 2017, Dublin are scheduled to play just three Saturday games, all of them coming in Croke Park.
Cork’s footballers have no Saturday fixtures pencilled in for next spring although their games aren’t as attractive, having dropped to Division 2. Cork’s hurlers have two Saturday games, which are both likely to be televised — their Division 1A opener at home to Clare on February 11 followed by the visit of Dublin to Leeside seven days later.
Sky Sports remain in the frame for another tranche of championship rights next season after Congress earlier this year endorsed the GAA’s right to negotiate with pay-per-view TV organisations.
Although it is more than two years since Sky joined the GAA’s TV rights stable, Croke Park remains sore over how the news was treated by RTÉ’s PrimeTime programme and TV3, and it remains to be seen how that might impact on their attempts to glean rights.
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