Streaming matches in 2020 – a success story

The success of streaming matches in 2020 suggests that the practice will increase in the years ahead.

By Patrick Sharkey

2020 has seen a massive upsurge in live-streamed matches, but it will not be a flash in a pan.

That’s the opinion of Sean Quirke whose company, C-Live Sport  successfully live-streamed matches during this year’s Donegal  Championship.

The live streaming ramped up this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which forced the government to reduce the amount of fans that were allowed to attend matches.

TG4 has broadcast  the senior club football and hurling finals exclusively on their TV channel and online player in years gone by, and some county boards have also assigned private companies to do the same via social media channels. But this year it wasn’t only TG4 who were live streaming games. There were masses of games shown across social media and county board websites. The results and response to that was very positive.

To compare and contrast, the most high profile game before there was any Covid-19 case on the island was the All-Ireland Club Intermediate football and hurling finals streamed on the TG4 YouTube channel which between them generated an average viewership of 55,500 views. Compare this  to an average of 60,000 views on August bank holiday weekend in 2020 for the four club games shown on TV.

All these numbers are very significant. Yet when the pandemic ends, the feeling is that the demand will still be there for games to be streamed live, even when more crowds are allowed to attend in greater numbers.

Quirke said that C-Live  Sport certainly has no plans to go away.

Quirke said that he knows first hand that the desire for games to be live-streamed will remain.

“I get asked this question all the time, if it is a flash in the pan because of Covid. I think through various points through history when something becomes new, people are going to think it is a flash in the pan and maybe no one would want it after.

“I suppose whenever you look at TV and things like that, people looked at it as a flash in the pan, saying who would want to sit down and watch that stuff?”

Quirke’s opinion is shared by Callum Doherty Harley. He helped out in the organisation of the live streaming of Malin’s games in Donegal this year.

The counter argument is perhaps that rural clubs won’t have any need for a live stream, if the majority of their fans return to the grounds. Yet Doherty Harley pointed out that live streams are not for those who merely live in Ireland.

“Yes, we have a massive fan base across the Atlantic. We have to cater for them also.”

People like Doherty Harley, like many other great club volunteers within the GAA, have changed the perspective of the club games coverage for the better with things like live streams. So it would seem that live streams are going to continue to be a very important part of our GAA lives.


Streaming matches for clubs

By Patrick Sharkey
IT has  been an extremely unusual year for GAA. While many folks in Donegal were glad that the onfield action returned, the frustration was that attendances were vastly reduced.

Yet for one Donegal man, a problem turned into an opportunity.

Malin GAA club man Callum Doherty Harley was inspired to get a live streams going for the games taking place in their home pitch of Connolly Park.

After discussions with the club board Harley got the go ahead for the live streams to take place on Facebook live.

The backing of the Malin GAA board is what ignited the flame of the successful live streams.

Harley said: “The fundamental principle set out by me and Pat (Inishowen GAA board member) was to satisfy the loyal supporters who were not allowed to attend after a decision made by the government that angered the majority of Malin GAA fans.”

Malin took full advantage of the Facebook live streaming aspect. Instead of opting to hire a private company  to take on the streaming work like other clubs in the county.

He said: “The fact that we used Facebook live, we had no expenditure. We had a sponsor that donated a sum of money every game.

“I found that on average we had 400 people online during the game but within the week I noticed that 10,000 people had viewed the stream.

“The feedback was exceptional. Through tough times we thought it brought 60 minutes of joy on a Sunday morning or afternoon.

“We tried to add in stories, jokes and an odd bit of slagging to add a bit of excitement. We had a statistics analysis (Liam Mooney) who came in every water break and a few interviews at half time.”

Fans from Malin were able to enjoy the coverage. Yet the service was not directed solely at those in the local area.

He said: “The whole thing was very successful. We managed to connect with local people who are living in the likes of America, Australia, and South Africa and so on.”

Harley, who is an aspiring journalist, has played Gaelic football with his club team Malin and has also played soccer with his local team, Culdaff FC, not to mention a lot of volunteer work for both clubs.

The opportunity to stream games also allowed him to add to his broadcast skills as Doherty Harley gave commentary along with ex-players of the club.

The  setbacks  were few and mostly centred around  broadband issues. Yet despite that, the live streams were quite a success for a small village with a population of 92 people. The streams  reached over ten thousand people, indicative of the their  quality and entertainment, and  opposition fans and the large Malin diaspora throughout the world could watch their beloved side.


Streaming as a business opportunity

By Patrick Sharkey

THE impact of reduced crowds at GAA matches has led to many  new companies being set up to provide streaming facilities for clubs. One such company is  C-Live  Sport, which was set up by Sean Quirke  to cope with the demand due to crowd restrictions.

The graphics operator of C-Live Sport Sean Quirke explained how they have made the year a success.

“I suppose in general, for the ones we have done, we have been pretty lucky that we haven’t had any major roadblocks  or anything major like that. The key to it I suppose will be testing, testing and when you’re finished with that do more testing.

“It’s usually a general rule of thumb that you go to the location a few times, test the internet, and test your equipment but still thing you could get you caught off guard.

“Other guys that were streaming as well down the country and around here (Donegal), like they would have tested as well but something managed to catch them off but in a general sense I think streaming it’s about to go up a level in sports like the GAA.

“I think sports streaming, especially in the GAA, is still in its relative  infancy. There have been issues with it but I think our own live streams were very successful if you look at that. I think the speed of it and how rapid people had to adapt to it, it was pretty successful.”

Quirke is a Buncrana native. He looks after the technical aspect of llive-streaming with things like the scoreboard, while  experienced videographer Hugh Quirke films the action.

Commentators change for different  streams depending on their availability, the sport shown, and the teams playing.

C-Live Sport  streamed the  two most popular Gaelic sports of football and hurling along with many junior soccer games too on both YouTube and Facebook this year.

The success at club level helped as they were chosen by the Donegal County Board to stream the Donegal senior hurlers playing in all of their Nickey Rackard  Cup games which were taking place in O’Donnell Park.

C-Live Sports may have had the best technology in town but they still faced challenges whenever they were streaming games.

This was their first year in business so it was never going to be a plain sailing voyage for the company in its infancy.

Donegal with its rural nature always tends to struggle with broadband and many people set high expectations for the live streams whenever they purchase pay per view streams as CLive Sport has done multiple pay per view streams for Donegal GAA TV.

Sean Quirke oversaw  many of the challenges but, however, he focused on the positives.

“If it wasn’t anywhere near the level or the demand, it might not have been there initially but I felt it was growing.

“I remember seeing a statistic and I don’t want to quote anybody but there is a statistic out there says the majority of people consume their media online basically. It can be obviously not be sport but things like Netflix, streaming movies, and things like that.

“Therefore, a lot of people use those things. So it makes sense that going forward they will want to  move online to get all their local sport via online streams as well.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW