GAA streaming service GAAGO is creating an “invisible barrier” for elderly football fans, according to Age Action.
GAAGO is a subscription-based streaming service launched in 2014 aimed at allowing Irish diaspora around the world to watch GAA matches online.
The service has now expanded into full TV coverage after Sky Sports ended their association with the GAA.
While some matches on the service are free on-demand, several are behind a paywall. One match costs €12 to view, three matches cost €24, while a ‘season pass’ of 38 Championship games costs €79.
Age Action Policy Specialist Nat O’Connor told Newstalk Breakfast GAAGO has created an “invisible barrier” for older GAA fans who cannot access the internet or afford the streaming service.
“The reality is, many older people are not using the internet, they don't have computers,” he said.
“It's an invisible barrier that people don't have the technology or the wherewithal to access these games online and it's not a small issue.”
“It opens possibilities”
Former GAA President Liam O’Neill argued that GAAGO does not exclude fans – but actually includes a wider audience.
“When GAAGO was set up, and it was for people who lives abroad and it was only accessible to people abroad,” he said. “And the complaint at that time was that it wasn't accessible to people here in Ireland.”
Mr O’Neill said GAAGO allows people to watch more matches from home that aren’t available elsewhere.
“There are 15 games next Saturday – with all due respect, no channel should show all those,” he said.
“GAAGO is a means through which you can watch some games – not all games, but some games will be shown next Saturday.”
Money and internet access
Mr O’Connor said GAAGO has excluded a large portion of the population from watching GAA matches because of its online mechanism.
“We're talking over 600,000 people at the moment, who are effectively digitally excluded because they're not using the internet because they don't have the skills,” he said.
Mr O’Connor also said that the increase in cashless sport venues has also led to more older fans who don’t use card payments preferring to watch the match from their own televisions.
“Many people will [use GAAGO] - but our concern is lots of people on the state pension can't afford subscription and don't have broadband,” he said.
Mr O’Neill argued that he is a pensioner himself and understands the age group – and other older fans can too through help.
“Young people can plug in computer or television in any house,” he said. "Any house accessible to old people.”
He argued that any fan of GAA will learn how to use GAAGO online if they want to watch a match.
“It’s only going one way,” he said. “We older people really have to facilitate it.”