Is live streaming the future of GAA?

Back in January of this year, the first GAA match was streamed live on the internet by a local media organisation. This was the Dr McKenna Cup encounter between Armagh and Tyrone. Armagh GAA organised the live stream of the game and it was met with widespread approval.

Speaking on the occasion, Armaghs GAA IT officer, Kevin Fox stated;  “We are working with Croke Park to become the blueprint for other Counties to follow and if they are happy with our launch, they may allow us to stream NFL games. We have permission from the relevant TV companies to stream the games but we want to go one step further and earn the seal of approval from HQ.”

The stream itself attracted 30,000 viewers, as a result this first step into live streaming has opened up a huge debate in GAA circles. For years live TV coverage was constrained to the major broadcasters of RTE, TV3, TG4 and Setanta, with restrictions such as rights to games all playing a part.

So what does this mean for the GAA?

Personally I feel this provides a major opportunity for the GAA to promote the GAA to a wider audience, both nationally and internally. Obviously such live streaming would have to be approved by the GAA, but one can assume that such competitions such as the Dr McKenna cup would not be subject to the same rights restrictions as the Championship later in the year. This is not the first time matches have been streamed live as we have seen RTE in previous years broadcast matches via their websites when there were encounters which would not attract the major audiences of Kerry V Cork for example. In such instances whereby an individual county is looking to stream a game, they require the permission of the individual broadcaster who owns the rights to the competition but if they receive the approval of the broadcaster and with the correct equipment available it means in future we could see games being broadcasted from Aughrim in Wicklow to Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim.

The GAA themselves have begun in the last 12 months to host video content on their own website but it may be a case that they themselves may look at the opportunities available in relation to such ventures on the back of the success of the Armagh broadcast.

So what does this mean from a media perspective?

A live streaming of a game would provide the brand with access to a localised audience and as a result the brand in question can tailor that message to build their brand presence in that local area. Obviously one would have to overcome issues such as the sponsors of the local teams resisting or the larger GAA sponsors but in the event of these being overcome it provides a huge opportunity for national brands to cement their local presence. Who is to say that it will also encourage online advertising from brands who would have previously not considered the medium? We at Mindshare will be keeping a close eye on this developing area over the coming months as GAA attempts to reach an ever widening audience.