31 December, 2010

Heineken Cup free-to-air/Sky Sports debate:

The Irish Government is considering bringing Heineken Cup matches involving Irish provinces to RTÉ/free-to-air Irish television networks. This would be under the "Crown Jewels" broadcasting plan; that is: that there are certain events (All-Ireland Finals, Six Nations, World Cup, Olympic Games etc.) that are National Events and that therefore should be viewed by as large a national audience as possible. The Government also says that by limitting Heineken Cup matches to Sky Sports, these matches aren't viewed by the "next" Brian O'Driscolls, and therefore, are not being inspired by viewing their heroes on television. Speaking to Newstalk, the Minister for Sport: Eamon Ryan compared an un-regulated (television) sport like boxing to rugby, saying he doesn't know who the World Heavyweight Champion is/are. This is absurd since an un-regulated sport like boxing, with many Governing bodies, cannot be compared in any way to rugby.

Where will the next Brian O'Driscoll come from if the IRFU lose Sky Sports' money?

Since Heineken Cup television rights went to Sky Sports in 2007, viewing figures have
remained effectively the same in Ireland, which shows that people are finding a way to watch these matches. Also, the money provided to Irish (and English, Scottish, Welsh, French and Italian) clubs, is vital to the development of grass roots rugby in the country. Money from pay-per-view T.V. provides a major percentage of the payment of wages to top players and is one of the main reasons that top players can stay and play club/provincial rugby in this country. If the IRFU lose Sky Sports' money, they will lose a vital revenue stream and will also lose dozens of the very best Irish rugby players, who will be attracted to higher wages are brought. Incidentally, wages at top clubs in France are already higher than the top wages in Ireland, so if wages are halved at top rugby clubs/provinces in Ireland (which would certainly happen if the IRFU loses Sky Sports' money), there will be no chance of keeping top Irish players in Ireland.

No comments:

Post a Comment