It’s time to send GAAGO to the sidelines and allow domestic viewers watch inter county matches on free-to-air TV, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Alan Dillon, former Mayo captain and two-time GAA All Star, has called for intercounty matches to be returned to domestic TV, and for the GAA’s five-year deal with the online platform to be scrapped.
Deputy Dillon said: “Over the last two weekends, two Munster hurling matches, both high quality games, were broadcast live only on GAAGO. People were forced to pay for it or miss out.
“This is extremely unfair and goes against the ethos of the GAA as an inclusive, volunteer-led and community-based organisation.
“What was supposed to be a means of connecting the Irish diaspora with their local teams is fast becoming an exclusive and expensive platform which disproportionately impacts older viewers.
“Over the last few days, we have heard from Age Action about how GAAGO is acting as an invisible barrier to older people accessing the matches they have enjoyed for years.
“When games are behind a paywall – they not only exclude people financially, they exclude people technologically.
“We are only in the first year of the five-year deal which is due to last until 2027 and I believe it needs to be revisited at the next GAA congress and scrapped. That proposal must be brought forward to GAA HQ,” Deputy Dillon said.
GAAGO was launched in 2014 as an online streaming service to allow audience and Irish diaspora worldwide watch live gaelic football and hurling.
Deputy Dillon continued: “The GAA has already handed over the months of August and September to rugby and soccer with the new shorter inter county championship format. And now, to watch GAA matches is becoming an even harder experience for supporters and volunteers who want to watch games at home. What kind of promotion of our national games is this?
“There is digital inequality across the country. Without adequate broadband and streaming services, we are alienating many viewers and supporters of our national games.
“We are also in the midst of a cost of living crisis and paying €12 per game is extreme compared to the prices charges for attending games.
“There are also issues for the elderly in downloading the app on devices, in turn creating problems for them in accessing the website and live GAA games.
“These challenges are in direct comparison to other services previously used like Sky which was more accessible on mainstream TV and digital services.
“While we have a great product, we do not need to make our supporters suffer.
“People across the country simply want to turn on their TV and watch the game. It’s time to make that happen”, Deputy Dillon concluded.