How the GAA has ramped up its digital content to engage fans worldwide
Welcome to the first in a series of articles that focuses on sports clubs and Federations and what they are doing in the digital / technology space in order to promote their brand and engage with their fans. If you have a great story to tell, get in touch with me at geoff@geoffwilsonconsultancy.
A global shift in consumer viewing habits and preferences led the Gaelic Athletic Association, Ireland’s largest sports organisation, to rethink its online content offering to fans amid their recent broadcast rights negotiations. As part of the new ground-breaking five-year TV, radio and online media rights distribution plan (2017-22), the association retained a large chunk of rights for their own digital exploitation purposes and have seen major gains in fan engagement as a result.
In contrast to previous arrangements whereby a third party relieved the GAA of all broadcast assets, an armoury of clip rights and archive footage was held back by the 2,500 club-strong governing body this time around. GAANOW – a new ‘direct-to-fan’ short form video platform embedded within GAA.ie – was developed and launched in-house to meet the growing demand for both real-time and on-demand content.
Features include near-live match highlights (available on your smartphone within four minutes of the action taking place), a video wall containing weekend match round-ups, midweek nostalgic archive footage from bygone years and other behind-the-scenes videos such as player interviews and training sessions.
Available for free on any connected device, anywhere in the world, GAANOW has gained huge traction and seen many professional sports bodies clamber to emulate the amateur association’s model;
“We’ve built strong, mutually beneficial relationships with some of the best sports rights holders in the world including Major League Baseball, the AFL and the NFL. GAANOW was developed having identified and then tailored the most compelling features of these other OTT and content services to suit the needs of GAA fans specifically.
It has seen us transition from being the seller to moderator to the actual broadcaster of our own rights and we are only getting started – the potential is unlimited.”
– Noel Quinn, GAA Senior Marketing & Media Rights Manager.
Monthly video viewership grew by 300% during a six-month period in which more than 700 videos and nearly 100 hours of compelling GAA content was made available to an engrossed audience both domestically and to the large Irish diaspora abroad.
Gaelic football and hurling is a national obsession in Ireland. A quarter of the country’s population tuned in to this year’s All-Ireland football final and supporters crave the latest news, views and reaction the same as any other followers of sport. A huge online community has been created across GAA.ie and its offspring social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter stagger the distribution of content over the course of a week based on previous user interactions and engagement.
“We know people, particularly the 15-35 demographic, are living their lives on social media and their smart phone or tablet has become their go-to source for staying up to date with their county team’s latest movements.
We are very cognisant of user experience, emerging technologies such as new handsets and resolution qualities and is the reason we are constantly evaluating and tweaking our video offering.”
– Lisa Hayden, GAA Digital Communications Manager.
GAANOW follows hot on the heels of another in-house broadcast product, GAAGO.ie – a joint venture initiative between the GAA and RTÉ. Launched a little over three years ago to service the live international GAA match-streaming market, the subscription platform has since broadcast over 30,000 hours of coverage and been accessed in over 180 countries around the world.
Plans are already afoot for the 2018 season which will likely see an increase in the live social broadcasting schedule by the GAA. Three 40-minute midweek magazine shows aired on the GAA’s official Facebook page in 2017 and targeted a more mainstream casual fan with the inclusion of presenters and couch guests not ordinarily associated to the sport.
More of the same, including nationwide roadshows, are pencilled in throughout 2018 to capitalise on the GAA’s new-found online content production and distribution appetite. Viewership will inevitably grow in the coming years as the GAA puts itself front and centre of where their fans live, only time will tell as to how big their production capabilities extend.
To find out more on GAANOW and GAAGO, visit;
If you want to connect with Noel Quinn, GAA Senior Marketing & Media Rights Manager, you can do so via https://www.linkedin.com/in/noel-quinn-66300911/
Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson
Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like your sports club or Federation profiled in the up and coming months.
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