GAA relaxes broadcast deal to allow BBC to show more games
THE GAA is understood to have relaxed the terms of its broadcast agreement to allow BBC NI to show more of this year’s Ulster SFC live on TV.
In a surprise move yesterday, the broadcaster revealed that it would show four live games in this summer’s competition.
RTÉ had revealed on Tuesday that it would show only two Ulster games this summer, namely the final and one semi-final on the Tyrone-Donegal side of the draw.
Since Sky Sports entered the market in 2014, the terms of the broadcast agreements have allowed BBC to only show live games when RTÉ were already broadcasting them.
Last year saw a break from the deal of sorts, with BBC then negotiating a deal that allowed them to broadcast two additional games through their online iPlayer.
This year they have managed to negotiate a further improvement, with a deal struck to allow them to broadcast two further live games on television.
The Antrim v Tyrone/Derry quarter-final that takes place at 6pm on Saturday, May 25 will be shown.
That will be the Saffrons’ first live TV appearance since their 2011 preliminary round loss to Donegal was shown by RTÉ.
The following day, May 26, will see Fermanagh and Donegal meet in a repeat of last year’s provincial final in Brewster Park.
There are no other championship games in any of the four provinces on May 25, while neither RTÉ nor Sky chose any of the other games on May 26 as part of their package of games for the summer.
On top of the two they’ll broadcast alongside RTÉ, BBC NI will show the remaining four games in the Ulster SFC deferred, beginning with the preliminary round tie between rivals Tyrone and Derry on May 12.
The Down-Armagh clash the following Sunday and the other semi-final on Sunday, June 2 will be shown deferred, as will the Cavan v Monaghan game on May 18 that is being carried live by Sky.
The move to allow BBC NI to show the games still comes as a surprise, but also under the weight of public and political pressure on all sides.
Representatives from the major nationalist parties have had relatively recent meetings with officials from both Ulster GAA and the BBC over complaints about the broadcaster’s lack of coverage of the games.
With increased competition from a revamped hurling championship, the provincial football series’ have been somewhat sidelined since last year.
The Ulster SFC semi-final on Saturday, June 8 will be the only provincial football game broadcast live by RTÉ this summer prior to the four finals, compared to 10 games from the Munster and Leinster hurling series’.
Sky will show just two, namely the Cavan v Monaghan derby and the Connacht SFC clash between Mayo or New York and Roscommon. They will also show six football qualifiers between them (five on Sky, one on RTÉ) up to and including round 4.
The GAA are not understood to be receiving any payment from BBC NI for the additional broadcasts.
Their current deal is a pro-rata arrangement with RTÉ, where BBC bear the cost of broadcasting the games and share the footage.
Asked if there was any additional financial arrangement with RTÉ because of the change to the deal, a spokesperson for BBC NI said that the information was “commercially sensitive”.
There is no change to the deal beyond the Ulster SFC, with BBC NI still unable to broadcast games from the qualifiers or the All-Ireland stages.
Their two additional games takes the overall number of live games on TV this summer to 47, with 31 to be shown exclusively on RTÉ and a further 14 live on Sky Sports.
2019 Ulster SFC – TV schedule
May 12: Tyrone v Derry (Deferred, BBC)
May 18: Cavan v Monaghan (Live, Sky Sports; Deferred, BBC)
May 19: Down v Armagh (Deferred, BBC)
May 25: Antrim v Tyrone/Derry (Live, BBC)
May 26: Fermanagh v Donegal (Live, BBC)
June 2: Cavan/Monaghan v Down/Armagh (Deferred, BBC)
June 8: Antrim/Tyrone/Derry v Fermanagh/Donegal (Live, BBC & RTÉ)
June 23: Ulster SFC final (Live, BBC & RTÉ)