Championship coverage on Saturdays to be dominated by GAAGO

RTÉ are to largely stick with broadcasting games in the traditional championship Sunday TV slot

GAA fans will have to wait until later in the summer for the opportunity to watch free-to-air championship games on Saturdays, with the majority of RTÉ's output remaining weighted towards Sunday matches.

However, of the 17 championship weekends there will be five Saturdays when RTÉ will broadcast live action.

GAAGO, which is a joint partnership between the GAA and RTÉ, has essentially taken ownership of the Saturday market – just as Sky had done during its nine years as a rights holder.

GAAGO is broadcasting a total of 38 exclusive live games and will show matches on 12 Saturdays over the course of the 17 championship weekends.


Their maiden offering was New York v Leitrim, but last weekend marked the streaming service’s first proper outing, showing six matches – four on Saturday and two on Sunday.

Three of those offered full production coverage with a presenter and team of analysts – Galway v Wexford, Clare v Tipperary, Cavan v Armagh. The other three games – Sligo v New York, Kerry v Tipperary, Dublin v Laois – were match only coverage.

The new media rights deal is a five-year agreement, 2023-2027 inclusive. RTÉ will show 31 live championship matches this summer, plus three Tailteann Cup games and the McDonagh Cup decider – 35 in total.

In selling broadcast rights, the GAA structure their games in various packages, some could offer a bundle of all the provincial finals, while others might include exclusive rights to All-Ireland quarter-finals. RTÉ successfully bid for the provincial finals package – and all six of those matches are taking place on Sundays this summer.

The first live Saturday action on RTÉ will be the McDonagh Cup final on May 27th, followed by action from the second round of the All-Ireland SFC group stages on Saturday, June 3rd.

The two All-Ireland senior hurling quarter-finals will be shown live by the national broadcaster on Saturday, June 24th while one of the hurling semis will also air on terrestrial television on Saturday, July 8th.

RTÉ's last Saturday offering will be on week 15 of the championship when they will broadcast the Tailteann Cup decider and one of the All-Ireland football semi-finals.

The remaining two championship weekends are for the All-Ireland hurling and football finals – both on Sundays.

The current Saturday programming output is largely in keeping with what was in place during the Sky years, though RTÉ has also introduced The Saturday Game highlights programme this season.

In total, over the course of the calendar year the national broadcaster will televise 69 live games across the four Gaelic games codes compared to 40 in 2018.

Still, for those who had hoped to see more Saturday matches this summer, they will have to turn to the GAA’s new streaming arm. It is perhaps no surprise GAAGO is utilising the platform of Saturdays to launch itself upon the marketplace in its first year on the scene.

GAAGO operates on a paid-for-content model with several options on the pricing structure. The packages range from pay as you go for €12 per game, to a season pass at €79 and all the way up to a commercial pass for bars and restaurants at €300.

“We had done streaming before, but last weekend marked a milestone moment in Irish sport for us, because we had never attempted anything on that scale before, six games and three with full production,” says Noel Quinn, the GAA’s head of broadcasting and marketing.

“Streaming can be volatile, there will always be issues, we are all learning and we are aware that some people can be frustrated by access points and that is something we are working on.”

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times