Football

GAAGO chief Noel Quinn: We are at war with 'dodgy boxes'

At the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Head of GAAGo Noel Quinn, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain and GAA President Larry McCarthy.
At the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Head of GAAGo Noel Quinn, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain and GAA President Larry McCarthy. At the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Head of GAAGo Noel Quinn, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain and GAA President Larry McCarthy.

Noel Quinn, head of the GAAGO streaming service, has admitted that it's reached the point of 'war' between pay-per-view broadcasters and illegal dodgy box providers.

Speaking at the launch of GAAGO's 2024 service, which will include 38 exclusive GAA Championship matches and a new midweek show, GAA President Larry McCarthy agreed with Quinn that dodgy boxes are their 'enemy'.

It's the second year that the GAAGO service, which previously targeted an international audience, will operate in the domestic market following Sky Sports' exit.

Of those 38 games, 22 will be Sam Maguire Cup football fixtures with the April 27 Ulster SFC semi-final between Fermanagh/Armagh and Down/Antrim set to be behind the paywall service.

Cork hurling supporters may be most frustrated as three of their Munster SHC group games will require payment to watch.

Quinn countered any potential negativity by stating that if GAAGO didn't cover many of the games on their list, they wouldn't have been picked up at all.

Quinn also noted that 'there will be over 300 games broadcast throughout the year over the (various) channels' of which '260 games or so will be free to air'.

Read more:

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  • Niall Ó Donnghaile: GAAGo must change to make sure everyone, across Ireland can view matches

He also confirmed that GAAGO returned a profit in its first year in the domestic market though said that the sale of illegal dodgy boxes, which allow users to access various subscription based channels and platforms for a vastly reduced fee, remains a live threat to the service.

"Yes, they are the enemy," said GAA President McCarthy, while Quinn described it as an ongoing 'war'.

"We are absolutely a victim of dodgy boxes, as are Amazon Prime or Sky or Netflix or Disney," said Quinn.

"We have consulted with a lot of different people and it is a war, and how much of the battle you want to take on is the question.

"Ireland has the highest consumption or purchase rate of dodgy boxes a year apparently, and my estimate, and it is an estimate, would be that there are hundreds of thousands of them in Ireland, and that's not targeting GAAGO (specifically) - it's targeting GAAGO, Sky and everyone else.

"So it's certainly an issue. There has been a lot of traction recently in terms of Gardai and police attention on the sellers of dodgy boxes. A few months ago, there were seven or eight counties that were raided and there's a lot more third-party money being spent on making people aware of the perils of illegal streaming; streamwise.com, you might see that around on some of the billboards around Dublin.

"FACT, the federation for copyright theft, who we're also engaging with, they are pushing out more things to keep people aware of it.

"That's helpful for us, that a policing body or governing body are saying, 'We're coming for you'. But it is absolutely rife. There's no denying that. It is something that every subscription channel seems to be battling with at the minute."

The existing GAAGO service will be augmented by a new midweekly GAA show though details were sketchy.

"It will certainly be longer than 30 minutes, maybe 36 minutes - it's still a work in progress, being honest," said Quinn. "We're keeping our powder dry on it."

In attendance at the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Aaron Kernan, GAAGo commentator Mike Finnerty, Michael Murphy, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain, GAAGo sideline reporter Aisling O'Reilly, Paddy Andrews and Marc Ó Sé. Fans can avail of 38 exclusive matches in Ireland for €69 up until December 31st". Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
In attendance at the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Aaron Kernan, GAAGo commentator Mike Finnerty, Michael Murphy, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain, GAAGo sideline reporter Aisling O'Reilly, Paddy Andrews and Marc Ó Sé In attendance at the 2024 GAAGO match schedule launch at Croke Park in Dublin are, from left, Aaron Kernan, GAAGo commentator Mike Finnerty, Michael Murphy, GAAGo Host Gráinne McElwain, GAAGo sideline reporter Aisling O'Reilly, Paddy Andrews and Marc Ó Sé. Fans can avail of 38 exclusive matches in Ireland for €69 up until December 31st". Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

A recent survey of around 6,000 consumers will lead to improvements in various areas of the service, according to Quinn. He also stated that there will be 'more games with additional cameras' in 2024.

GAAGO's season pass and offers like three-for-two bundles were also pushed by officials who said prices haven't increased for 2024, despite increased expenses and a global trend of spiralling prices.

"Three-for-two bundles went very well last year," said Quinn, who noted that a single game costs €12 to stream.

"That's good for counties who feel their county will progress to a round robin series. They can look at the schedule and say we are going to get that for a few games. If you're from Cork now, you can argue it brings it down now to €8 per game. The season pass is where the value is."

Meanwhile, concerns over whether the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) may intervene in GAAGO's plans for 2024 were waved away by Quinn and McCarthy.

A Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing last July on the future of sports broadcasting raised the question of whether GAAGO had been cleared by the CCPC to move into the domestic market. It subsequently emerged that it hadn't been cleared.

"They are not investigating, they are merely looking for information as it stands," said Quinn.

"A notification (to the CCPC) wasn't necessary based on the term of that two-year domestic deal which was commensurate with the Joint Oireachtas Committee as well. There certainly hasn't been a breach flagged in any shape or form. But like that we'll continue working with the CCPC if they have any feedback."