New GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail insists the debate over media rights is over and hinted the number of televised games could be reduced further in future.
Sky Sports won the rights to broadcast GAA last year - the first time that games were shown on a subscription-only basis. Sky currently has exclusive rights to 14 games. There are 31 games available free-to-air on RTÉ, with 25 of those exclusive to RTÉ.
"The debate within the GAA is over as regards the media rights deal."
GAA analyst and former All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly has voiced his concerns over the agreement, writing in The Sunday Independent yesterday that the deal “exemplifies the disregard for the lifeblood” of the organisation.
Speaking to RTÉ today, Ó Fearghail insisted that selling the rights to Sky Sports had not hurt viewing numbers. “There is no doubt it has brought greater access, right across Britain. The only delegates who spoke at Congress on the media rights deal were delegates from Britain and they accepted it and thought it was great because now there is access to matches on a platform that wasn't there previously and they are very comfortable [with it].
“The debate within the GAA is over as regards the media rights deal. There was no negative comment all weekend [at Congress] about the media deal. They are very comfortable with it.
“Whether the numbers of Sky are relevant to us, we don't go out checking how many people open new AIB bank accounts because they are a sponsor of ours.“
With the number of televised games at an all-time high, the GAA president said one issue that has to be investigated is whether too many games are broadcast and if it impacts on the activities of clubs across the country, abroad and attendances at matches.
“We don't monitor how many people view RTÉ or TV3. The facts are that we monitor the attendance at matches and that is the big message. We are going to review should we have 100 free-to-air matches and should we reduce that because many of our supporters and members are saying that we have far too many games, that it is cutting down the number of people in attendance.
"I think we may have too many because a lot of clubs find it is putting pressure on them.
“Every Sunday there are two matches live and they are getting less and less people going to our games. My view is we certainly should review it. If change is needed, it will happen. I'm not sure it will happen but certainly we should need to examine that.”