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'We're doing all this in a cautious and planned way' - live TV and streaming as GAA action returns

Nemeton TV will be powering TG4′s action and streaming games for county boards as GAA returns.

TG4's GAA coverage returns on Friday night from Wexford.
TG4's GAA coverage returns on Friday night from Wexford.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE PRODUCTION COMPANY behind TG4′s GAA BEO offering will be streaming games for four county boards this month in addition to their live TV coverage of club championship matches.

After the coronavirus-enforced shutdown since mid-March, the action returns on TG4 this Friday night with Wexford hurling in the spotlight as reigning champions St Martin’s take on Oulart-the-Ballagh and then on Sunday afternoon there is a Dublin hurling opener live with Ballyboden St-Enda’s facing Kilmacud Crokes.

Nemeton TV are to produce live coverage for the station from Limerick, Cork, Galway, Down and Meath between now and the August Bank Holiday weekend while the company have also confirmed they will be streaming games for four county boards on the weekend of 24-26 July.

The Roscommon football opening round game between St Brigid’s and Clann na nGael will be streamed on Saturday 25 July along with three Galway hurling matches (Turloughmore v Liam Mellows, Castlegar v St Thomas and Craughwell v Gort) over the course of that weekend.

There will also be coverage of Waterford and Kerry championship games with the details of those still to be confirmed. The GAA guidelines do not allow club games to be streamed live at the same time as TV coverage but Nemeton expect that streaming will be an option considered by various county boards.

“We put this option together at the request of Croke Park and our name has got out there as a result,” said Irial Mac Murchú, the chief executive of Nemeton TV.

“We’ve four counties confirmed for the weekend after next as well as our work for TG4. Many counties are easing their way into this, looking at the number of subscribers and then what’s involved in the technical and production side of things.

“Then we would expect to see a pick up in activity heading into August and September when the knockout stages happen and there are games they’d most like people to see. No two counties are the same in terms of the quality and prominence and format of their championships. I’d imagine they’ll see how the first weekend or so goes and then decide what they’ll do.”

The streaming option is likely to be more appealing to fans given attendance restrictions on matches. Production wise it is a vastly different operation from what Nemeton would undertake for TG4.

“For TV you’re going do a five camera game and the technical requirements are very high to guarantee pictures, sound and graphics. You need an outside broadcast unit and a whole technical crew as well as sideline presentation. Television is very intensive and demands high quality.

“For streaming it’s a completely different approach. You don’t have the bells and whistles of TV but it’s not a sub-standard service either. You’ve a single camera and a commentary team. Graphics wise, you’ll have the score, a clock and the team sheets. It’s all much more cost effective and the internet streaming is more forgiving in that sense.”

This weekend is the start of a highly intensive period for the company with the volume of GAA games scheduled in the coming weeks and months.

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“What we’re proposing to do now is cram a schedule that you’d usually do from March to December into a four-month period,” said Mac Murchú.

“There’s club and county games, both men and womens’, along with grades such as minor, U20 and senior. We’re really going to have to work very hard. Our planning people are flat out trying to book people with so many matches on.

“We want to get as much production done while we can. We’re all gung-ho at the moment but there’s still an air of uncertainty about the whole thing.”

That feeds into the extra level of preparation required in the upcoming productions. The focus on health and safety has been increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Healthy and safety is first and foremost in our mind. For instance we’ve another series of Laochra Gael in production for TG4 at the moment and we’d a sterile zone set up in our studio down in Rinn in Waterford so that people could feel comfortable coming to be interviewed. Contributors were only allowed into the building one at a time. With live games, our sideline production model lends itself better to social distancing rather than in a studio.

“We’re approaching all the live broadcasts in the same way. TG4 have to have confidence in what we’re doing, we are their agents. TBM, based in Bartlemy in Cork, supply the outside broadcast facilities to us and they’ve thought long and hard in preparing for this.

“We’re doing all this in a cautious and planned way, it’s well thought-out and we’re bringing the GAA and TG4 on board with all of our plans.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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