GAA statement hits back at Virgin Media and as GAAGO review revealed

May 10, 2023

GAAGO Presenter Gráinne McElwain, Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy and Director-General of RTÉ Dee Forbes ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The GAA has released a statement in which they answer what they say were 'misleading comments' in a press release by Virgin Media Television.

Virgin Media on Tuesday issued a press release questioning whether RTE, as 50 per cent owners of GAAGO paid ‘anything for these rights (given to GAAGO) or did they just agree to keep them behind a paywall to drive revenues for both partners’ in the streaming service.'

Originally it was thought that Sky would continue as broadcast partners of the GAA but once they indicated that they would not do so, GAAGO were given those rights.

GAAGO has been criticised heavily in recent days, with Donal Og Cusack berating the decision to put Munster SHC games on the online service. The GAA say they will review GAAGO at the end of the season.

GAA statement on Media Rights 

On Tuesday May 9th, VMTV (Virgin Media Television) issued a  statement that called into question the integrity of the GAA Media Rights process. The statement contained several factual errors and misleading  comments.  

The GAA contacted VMTV and requested that they correct their  statement. Since this has not been forthcoming, the GAA, reluctantly,  issues the following to correct the record. 

Strategically, the GAA media rights are designed to: 

a) Maximise coverage. We bias toward ‘Free To Air’. 

b) Support the Irish language. We bias toward TG4. 

c) Generate a fair commercial value for our rights. We seek to keep  commercial tension to the fore by seeking an agile, competent  third party. 

1. From as early as February 2021, the GAA contacted VMTV and  other parties to gauge their interest in acquiring rights packages  that would become available in the renewal of the GAA media  rights in 2022. The initial call was followed up by a detailed  description of the various packages available. 

2. Thereafter followed several meetings, telephone calls, emails and  document exchanges between the parties. 

3. The GAA did not receive a formal bid from VMTV or an  expression of interest. 

4. In June 2022, VMTV were again contacted to clarify that they did  not intend to make a bid. VMTV were clear that their model was  not to acquire rights but rather to acquire ‘ready to go’ packages ie productions which don’t require outside broadcast set-ups for  live match coverage. 

5. In short, VMTV were afforded every opportunity to discuss  options, variations to packages and to submit a confidential offer.  VMTV choose not to bid. 

6. GAA continued discussions with other parties.  

7. Specifically in respect of one party, the GAA was unable to  deliver Sky’s preferred selection as strategically we wanted  greater free to air coverage for our National League Package.  These rights subsequently went to TG4 and RTÉ. Whilst Sky did  bid for a lesser package, the GAA decided to progress with  GAAGO. This was because GAAGO could facilitate greater  flexibility on match schedules, provide coverage for an additional  24 games and offer the opportunity for more flexible pricing for  viewers and members. The finances involved were in fact similar. 

8. Recently GAAGO has been the subject of considerable commentary and we will conduct a comprehensive review of its  operation at season end. 

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