A number of high profile GAA figures have signed their name to a petition hoping to dismantle the pay-per-view model within GAA.
The pay-per-view model with high profile championship games first came into focus when Sky purchased rights from the GAA back in 2014. Since then, the games have become a focal point of Sky’s subscription packages to Irish customers, and have covered a number of championship games in both codes including All-Ireland finals.
The petition, which has been launched by former Wexford hurler Diarmuid Lyng with Michael Duignan, Joe Brolly and Paul Rouse signing their name to it, cite the detrimental affect the model has had on what the GAA stands for at a grassroots level.
“The elite model which Sky Sports champions is detrimental to the social fabric of areas in which GAA clubs carry a sincere social responsibility.”
“The GAA’s most significant opportunity lies in restoring value to local community. We can shift the balance back towards the club by encouraging the club game to develop alongside the intercounty game, as opposed to well behind it, as is the current reality.
“Based on recent motions from Clare, Leitrim and Roscommon, it is clear that people at the coalface of GAA life do not support the organisation’s decision to use a pay per view model.”
Sky have gone beyond their purchase of viewing rights to investing in GAA grassroots level, with the launch of the GAA Super Games Centres and development of branding figures such with some high profile players.
In a piece for the Sunday Independent earlier this year, Joe Brolly argued about the “cultural hijacking” the increased branding Sky and other major brands have been planning, specifically targeting younger generations.
“The trick is to buy elite players’ loyalty, make them brand ambassadors, give them sugary, hand- shaking jobs like the partners of England’s princes, and create images of them holding hurls or size 5s in the midst of crowds of smiling children.”
Michael Duignan famously lambasted the Sky deal on an episode of The Sunday Game, saying his elderly parents had no method of watching the qualifier between Waterford and Kilkenny without leaving the house.
“My parents are at home, my father is 83 years of age. A savage hurling man. Why should he go to the pub? He doesn’t go to the pub to watch a match.”
Beginning this weekend, eir Sport have launched their broadcasting of the National Leagues to much acclaim. These games are also behind a pay wall, however are more attainable should customers have a broadband package with the provider.
However Lyng mentions on Twitter that they want to bring an end to all paywalls, including eir’s league coverage.
All games behind a paywall.
— Diarmuid Lyng (@diarmuidlyng) January 28, 2018