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BBC set to step in as Sky Sports and GAA part ways over new TV rights deal

TG4 will continue to show league games and could extend its coverage to Saturday nights but Virgin Media are understood not to be in the mix.

The GAA's five-year media rights deal is to be announced this week but it won’t incorporate Sky Sports. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE

Colm KeysIndependent.ie

The conclusion of the All-Ireland championships looks set to be opened up to a vast new audience with the BBC network in line to broadcast both finals.

A new five-year media rights deal is to be announced this week but it won’t incorporate Sky Sports, however, who have confirmed that their nine-year association has come to an end by “mutual agreement.”

But BBC’s continued interest in GAA broadcasting could see the All-Ireland finals being shown across the UK, potentially giving the GAA’s showpiece games a huge overseas reach.

BBC NI has been showing Ulster Championship games on Sunday afternoons and has been extending its GAA reach that could soon include All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.

With Sky Sports out, it could see the BBC footprint increase though the majority of championship games are now expected to be shown on RTÉ and GAAGO. TG4 will continue to show league games and could extend its coverage to Saturday nights but Virgin Media are understood not to be in the mix.

Sky Sports had been keen to expand its coverage and saw opportunity in the increase in the number of championship games in 2023. From next year that number will rise from 60 to 99, including Tailteann Cup games, but the GAA was apparently reluctant to move with that planned Sky expansion.

Sky Sports were looking for a 32-game package, including 16 league games, but in the end guarantees around a smaller 13-game package could not be reached between the nine-year partners.

“Despite our participation in the broadcast rights bidding process, lengthy negotiations and a strong willingness on both sides to continue our partnership, Sky and the GAA have been unable to reach a renewal agreement,” said Sky Ireland chief executive JD Buckley.

“A factor in this decision has been the new shortened GAA season and its knock-on impact on the number of games Sky Sports wanted to broadcast.”

The GAA has been negotiating with its broadcast partners for almost a year and put in place a one-year extension of the 2017-2021 agreement while that was ongoing.


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