Will ‘pay per view’ BSkyB be a good thing for Gaelic Games ?

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Sky Sports buys exclusive rights to 14 GAA matches

Subscription channel to broadcast 14 games exclusively plus All-Ireland semi-finals and finals

Irish Times, Thursday 3rd April 2014

Today, Thursday 3rd April 2014, The Irish Times reports that the GAA have confirmed details of their deal with Sky Sports, with the satellite broadcaster securing rights to 20 games in this year’s All-Ireland football and hurling championships.

Under the terms of the deal, Sky Sports will broadcast

  • 14 matches exclusively on the pay-per-view channel
  • while also securing non-exclusive rights to the All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and finals.

The exclusive games consist of

  • eight Saturday evening matches in the All-Ireland qualifiers
  • two All-Ireland football championship quarter-finals
  • two Saturday evening
  • two Sunday provincial championship games.

The first match broadcast on the channel will be the meeting of Kilkenny and Offaly in the Leinster hurling championship in Nowlan Park on June 7th and the two quarter-finals shown by Sky will involved the Leinster and Ulster champions against teams coming through the qualifying series.

Will this cause unhappiness amongst the membership and also the viewing public, who will have to pay to watch matches for the first time during the summer.

While RTÉ retain the same amount of matches (31) as under the previous deal, TV3 – who started broadcasting championship games six years ago – have lost all of their coverage.

The 31 championship games to be televised by RTÉ include the All-Ireland finals and semi-finals in both codes, the All-Ireland hurling quarter-finals, and two of the four All-Ireland football quarter-finals.

RTÉ have also secured the rights to all six provincial championship finals.

Ulster championship games covered by RTÉ will also be broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland.

GAA fans in Australia, meanwhile, will be able to watch all 45 championship games live on free-to-air television with the country’s Channel 7 network securing rights.

Competition and vertical integration in the UK

Ofcom complained that Sky’s plan to operate pay TV services on Freeview was “generating serious consumer detriment” and the National Consumer Council call Sky’s plan “bad news for consumers,” combined with representations from BT, Setanta, Top Up TV, and Virgin Media has caused Ofcom to launch an investigation into the “features of the [UK pay TV] market, including control over content, ownership of distribution platforms, retail subscriber bases and vertical integration.”

Sky has repeatedly used its lawyers to lodge complaints with the soon-to-be-rival YouView service, considered by some to be a delaying tactic in order to promote its own services, especially considering its failure to complain about other services, such as Google TV.

On 13 July 2011, MP Chris Bryant stated to the House of Commons, in the Parliamentary Debate on the Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation Bid for BSkyB that the company was anti-competitive:

“The company has lots of technological innovation that only a robust entrepreneur could to bring to British society, but it has also often been profoundly anti-competitive. I believe that the bundling of channels so as to increase the profit and make it impossible for others to participate in the market is anti-competitive. I believe that the way in which the application programming interface—the operating system—has been used has been anti-competitive and that Sky has deliberately set about selling set-top boxes elsewhere, outside areas where they have proper rights. If one visits a flat in Spain where a British person lives, one finds that they mysteriously manage to have a Sky box there even though it is registered to a house in the United Kingdom.”

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One thought on “Will ‘pay per view’ BSkyB be a good thing for Gaelic Games ?

    […] Will the new SkySPorts GAA deal be good for Gaelic Games? […]

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